Published: Sun, January 14, 2018
Sports | By Nelson Rowe

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

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

The figures of India's fast bowlers flattered them in Cape Town.

Kohli failed to deliver in the Indian batting challenge while chasing a mediocre target in the opening Test. His first boundary came in the 19th over when he sliced Hardik Pandya wide of point.

The second new ball was due but Indian captain Virat Kohli persisted with Ashwin and was rewarded when De Kock edged Ashwin to Kohli at slip to be out first ball. For the most part they looked at home in front of a sold-out crowd - not surprising given that they both ply their trade for the Titans - despite the unfamiliar colour of the pitch. The hosts have not lost at this venue since 2014.

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

The injury to Dale Steyn will be the only change that Proteas might be looking at and if they opt for an allrounder, either Andile Phelukwayo or Chris Morris might get a go. This might test not only their skills but also their mental strength. Faf du Plessis called for one, and Amla, after a moment's hesitation, responded. Keshav Maharaj will be the lone spinner in the team. He has the best overseas average among the current lot of Indian batsmen. The conditions are far different from that of the sub-continent and India didn't even play a warm-up game prior to the first Test. The first hour will be hard for the batsmen and we are looking to exploit the conditions. "Two days from the game it looked like we are going to play an all-seam attack", Ashwin said. Perhaps Kohli should stick to the left-right opening combination of Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay but Ajinkya Rahane definitely needs to be drafted ahead of Rohit Sharma. Their attitude of dominating the bowlers with a flurry of strokes will not work. They have more pace options. They must curtail their habit of going after the deliveries.

# No one is questioning Ishant Sharma's inclusion in the side. It will not be a surprise if one of Dhawan or Rohit sit out, while Karnataka right-hander KL Rahul - a stroke-maker but with a judicious batting approach - may find himself in the openers' slot. More than four years after that Wanderers debacle, Ashwin found a pitch that gave him some turn, and he has not just kept India alive but in partnership with Hardik Pandya he has given India the upper hand despite losing the toss and watching their main fast bowlers give away runs like millionaires.

India, despite all the pre-series talk about this being their best opportunity to win in South Africa, weren't overly disappointed about the loss at Newlands with skipper Virat Kohli adopting a reasonably philosophical attitude.

Hashim Amla settled down and unfurled a couple of high-class shots - a straight-bat push off Bumrah that bisected mid-on and midwicket, and a wristy whip off Ashwin - and saw South Africa to tea with AB de Villiers for company.

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