23 wickets on day 1: Not a good advertisement for Test cricket

Indian bowlers seize lost ground after lower order make a hash of first innings

Mohammed Siraj celebrates (photo: @amsoz)
Mohammed Siraj celebrates (photo: @amsoz)
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Gautam Bhattacharyya

There is now a distinct possibility that the second India-South Africa Test at Newlands may end inside two days — just on the back of the first one which the hosts won inside three. Not a good advertisement for Test cricket, if you are an aficionado. 

At stumps following a tumultuous day’s action, as many as 23 wickets had fallen across three sessions on the first day, leaving everyone to ponder how much of a devil was actually in the wicket. The match is tilted at least 60-40 in India’s favour after the hosts finished at 62 for three, still 36 runs behind India, it was once again thanks to their bowlers. 

At lunch, the cricket fraternity was going gaga in praise of Mohammed Siraj, who produced a straight spell of nine overs for career-best figures of six for 15 as the South African batters failed to counter the disconcerting bounce and the movement he generated off the air as well as the surface. 

If it looked like Siraj had handed India the match on a platter, the likes of captain Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill and a resolute Virat Kohli applied themselves in testing conditions better and when the fifth wicket of K.L. Rahul fell at 153, it looked as though India may have tided over the early hiccups rather well.

However, the next 11 balls saw the fall of six Indian wickets — Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Prasidh Krishna and Mukesh Kumar, the last five for successive ducks as the long Indian tail was rather cruelly exposed.  

Social media is once again abuzz with talk of India missing the balance in the side at the absence of both allrounder Hardik Pandya and Rishabh Pant, while some wondered at the point behind investing in so-called promising talents like Yashasvi Jaiswal if they can’t grab the opportunity with both hands. 

If India manage to pull it back in this Test and return home with a 1-1 result, a loss of face can be averted at best. However, it will be hardly a compensation for the pre-series hype of conquering the ‘final frontier’ in South Africa!

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