South Africa vs India 2nd Test talking points
India went down fighting in the pastures of Wanderers to see the series levelled at 1-1 after an exultant display of triumph from the visitors back at Centurion. Like the way there were a lot of questions that were posed after another overseas defeat, there were also a lot of positives from which the Indian fans can take a lot of heart as they travel to Cape Town to seal the fate of the series.
The biggest boost for India before the third Test will be the return of captain Virat Kohli. His return to the middle order may beg the question that who will have to take the axe and most likely, it will be India’s hero in the second innings, Hanuma Vihari.
We can keep the discussion for the third Test for another time. For now, we will take a look at the three key takeaways from India’s defeat at the Wanderers.
1. Rahane and Pujara returning to form
If there is one thing that has troubled the Indians in the longest format of the sport for the past couple of years, it is their middle-order batting. Despite phenomenal starts from the openers and occasional bursts of brilliance from the tail-enders, the pillar of the Indian batting hasn’t really stood up to the bowling that they have been up against. Rahane and Pujara have been in the worst of shapes. They have played needless strokes, got undone by pace and somewhere they have been outclassed by swing. Both of them needed a knock each to keep going on in the forthcoming days. The second innings at Wanderers came as an air of fresh breath to both. The duo came together, changed their approach and played some exquisite strokes to trouble the mighty fast bowling quartet of South Africa. More importantly, the duo seemed very comfortable against the brutal pace of the Lions and played some effortless strokes of brilliance, underlining the return of two of India’s best Test batters in the last decade.
2. Shardul Thakur’s heroics
Despite failing to conjure something extraordinary in the second innings, it was the brilliance of Thakur in the first that helped India to bundle out South Africa with a paltry lead. On a dead surface, Thakur managed to emanate swing and adhered to an extremely stringent line to trouble the hosts. He resorted to the good length area and targeted the corridor of uncertainty on the off-stump against the wobbling South African batters. The discipline shown by Thakur will act as a massive impetus for India who is desperately trying to figure out their fourth bowler and the replacement all-rounder for Jadeja.
3. KL Rahul’s form continues
Out of all the batting fiascos that India has had, their opening stands have been the best. Despite the absence of Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill, KL Rahul continued with his brilliance in the first innings. His batting has been an absolute treat to watch and the way he has navigated through the ever-shifting maze of South African fast bowlers, has been exemplifying. He has let the good ones fly to the keeper while he has traded the bad deliveries to the ropes. He has also shown an impeccable sense of timing that has been instrumental in helping him to score despite India’s mediocre batting in the series so far.