On a day that was otherwise dominated by the South Africans, Ajinkya Rahane fought hard with an unbeaten 89 and helped India reach 231-7 at close of play on Day 1 of the 4th India vs South Africa Test in Delhi. Off-spinner Dane Piedt starred for the visitors with his four-wicket haul and was ably supported by seamers Morne Morkel and Kyle Abbott.
Dhawan, Pujara survive tricky morning session:
Having elected to bat first, India got off to the slowest start possible as the Delhi wicket contained a fair amount of moisture which helped the new-ball bowlers in the morning. Kyle Abbott bowled with great discipline and sent down a few chills down the Indian openers’ spine. Piedt was brought into the attack early and this move worked in favour of the visitors. The spinner managed to produce an edge off Vijay’s (12) blade and the ball was safely pouched by Hashim Amla at first slip. Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara then built the Indian innings further and went into the Lunch break having put 60 runs on the board.
Quick wickets put India on backfoot, Rahane-Kohli add important runs in 2nd session:
In the third over after lunch, Piedt struck once again as he trapped Dhawan (33) LBW. Seven balls later, Kyle Abbott pierced through a bat-pad gap offered by Cheteshwar Pujara (14), thus rattling his woodwork to send him packing. India were reduced to 66-3 in no time and it was upto the experienced duo of Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane to steady the ship.
The duo went about this task in an aggressive manner as they scored at a brisk pace. While the skipper played the aggressor, Rahane was happy in lending him support by holding his end strong. They added 70 runs for the 4th wicket before Kohli (44) fell victim to an unusual dismissal. A nicely-timed slog sweep off Piedt hit the short-leg fielder’s thigh pad and went up in the air and Dane Vilas, the wicketkeeper was quick enough to grab the ball on the rebound to send the Indian skipper back to the hut. Temba Bavuma, the short-leg fielder would not have minded taking that hit.
Rohit Sharma (1) and Wriddhiman Saha (1) fell cheaply at the stroke of Tea and India faced another quick bowl-out as the score now read 139-6. Ajinkya Rahane was batting on 31 and Ravindra Jadeja joined him in the middle.
Ajinkya Rahane gets close to maiden Test ton at home, India get past 200:
The Rahane-Jadeja pair added 59 runs for the 7th wicket with the latter scoring 24 runs. During the partnership, Ajinkya Rahane got to his half-century, his first in this series. Jadeja then made his way back to the pavilion after clipping Kyle Abbott’s delivery on leg stump straight to Dean Elgar at mid-wicket. Rahane and Ashwin then batted out the remainder of the day with the former unbeaten on 89.
Ajinkya Rahane displayed immense mental strength and paced his innings really well. He did not look to improvise and followed the most ideal batting approach of respecting the good balls and punishing the bad ones. India were also helped with a few dropped chances by Hashim Amla and company, the most crucial being Ajinkya Rahane’s chance when he was batting on 78.
What to expect from Day 2?
Ajinkya Rahane and the Indian team have given themselves a realistic chance of getting past the 300-run mark and they should be able to get there. Anything close to 300 would prove to be a challenging total and with in-form bowlers like Ashwin and Jadeja in the side, the visitors will have an uphill task at hand.
India 231-7 in 84 overs (Ajinkya Rahane 89*, Virat Kohli 44, Dane Piedt 4-101, Kyle Abbott 3-23)