South Africa win toss, opt to bat in second test v India

WATCH | Ravichandran Ashwin tries seam bowling ahead of Centurion Test

Ravichandran Ashwin bowled 31 overs tirelessly on Day 1 to finish with three wickets. "In the last two series, he (Sharma) was acting very stupidly, reacting to the situations badly, and I think every time he comes out with something different and that is not making him very consistent", the 55-year-old mentioned. Now that Morkel has embraced the need to bowl a slightly fuller length, he is the complete package and though he is often forgotten - he was not mentioned at all in du Plessis' pre-match press conference - he is crucial to South Africa's continued success.

South Africa have handed a debut to tall seamer Lungi Ngidi regarded as a hugely promising talent who will expect to get steep bounce at a brisk pace on his home pitch in provincial cricket.

After losing the toss for the second time in a row in Centurion, the Indian captain announced that the side has chose to go with KL Rahul for Shikhar Dhawan, while wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel replaced an injured Wriddhiman Saha. The most pleasing thing for me was to see that he was wanting the ball all the time.

It should be noted that South Africa had enjoyed a winning spree at Centurion like no other venue across this country with 17 wins and just two defeats.

The veteran Protea was pleased to see a youngster like Hardik Pandya perform exceptionally well in all the three departments. Citing that Ishant might benefit with his height, Virat Kohli has hurt Bhuvneshwar Kumar's self-confidence.

Markram fell just short of a century on his home ground, but South Africa was building partnerships and in control at the break on a surprisingly tame pitch at SuperSport Park.

Put plainly, South Africa's request for a green, lively wicket was not produced to order.

It left both batsmen at the same end, and India were gifted the easiest of comebacks. Ashwin got the breakthrough for India early in the session, albeit it was a lucky dismissal. His pulling was strong in the morning session, but he got into a couple of uncomfortable positions during one over from Jasprit Bumrah after lunch, misjudging one pull shot that feel short of mid-on, while a few balls later a top edge flew over the 'keeper's head for four.

At the other end, Amla required some fortune. The only way India can include Rahane in the eleven is if they decide to drop R Ashwin, a decision that's unlikely at Centurion.

Markram has two test centuries and two half-centuries in his first five tests and has been out in the 90s twice now in his first seven test innings. Had Parthiv held Amla, South Africa would have been 164 for 3.

From there on they allowed things to slip. Faf du Plessis called for one, and Amla, after a moment's hesitation, responded. It was started by a superb piece of fielding from Pandya, who responded to Amla's quick single in his follow-through by getting to the ball sharply, swiveling in his throw to knock down the stumps at the non-striker's end.



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