Centurion – India lost two wickets in as many balls during the afternoon session of the Centurion Test against the Proteas on Sunday, but by tea they had recovered to 80/2 to leave them 255 runs behind.
SCOREBOARD: Proteas v India - 2nd Test, Day 2
Virat Kohli was 39* at the break and looking extremely dangerous, while opener Murali Vijay (31*) was solid at the other end.
At this stage, there is nothing separating the sides and the third session on day two has become massive.
Lungi Ngidi’s spectacular runout was the highlight of the session from a South African perspective, but there is much work to be done in the afternoon with things evenly poised and Kohli looking onimous.
India had started the session on 4/0 and, for the most part, openers Vijay and Lokesh Rahul looked untroubled in the early overs.
The wicket didn’t seem to be offering Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander much assistance, and half-an-hour in it became clear that the South Africans would have to work hard for their wickets.
It took two balls for the momentum to swing.
Morkel, in his fifth over, went relatively full and Rahul (10) took the bait as he rocked forward onto the drive.
He made decent contact as he looked to hit it straight back past the bowler, but Morkel reacted brilliantly off his own bowling to take the catch.
Then, the very next ball, Ngidi introduced himself to Test cricket with a moment of magic that had nothing to do with his bowling.
New man at the crease Cheteshwar Pujara pushed the first ball he faced to mid-on, were Ngidi was fielding. The batsman set off for a quick single but didn’t anticipate just how mobile Ngidi is for a big man.
The debutant swooped down to make the pick-up, and released off balance with one stump to aim at.
Pujara was well short, and Centurion roared as Ngidi’s piece of fielding reduced the Indians to 28/2.
That brought Kohli to the wicket and the Indian skipper immediately looked up for the challenge. He batted positively, and with Vijay quickly restored some respectability to the Indian scoreboard.
Kagiso Rabada, meanwhile, was bowling with aggression and intensity, not afraid to offer Kohli and Vijay a word of advice whenever he beat the bat.
The Ngidi moment finally came in the 14th over when the 21-year-old was given the ball.
His first delivery in Test cricket was to Kohli, and while Ngidi showed good pace and bowled in probing areas, he had not picked up a maiden Test wicket by tea.
Kohli’s wicket is crucial as the Proteas look to get back on top in this match and if he beats through until the end of the day, it is hard to see South Africa going into day three in command.
South Africa had earlier been bowled out for 335 on the second morning with Faf du Plessis scoring 63.