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Rediff.com  » Cricket » PICS: Elgar overshadows Rahul as SA take control

PICS: Elgar overshadows Rahul as SA take control

Last updated on: December 27, 2023 23:35 IST
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IMAGES from Day 2 of the first Test between South Africa and India, at SuperSport Park, Centurion, on Wednesday.

Dean Elgar celebrates completing his century in South Africa's first innings on Day 2 of the first Test against India, at  SuperSport Park, Centurion, on Wednesday.

IMAGE: Dean Elgar celebrates completing his century in South Africa's first innings on Day 2 of the first Test against India, at SuperSport Park, Centurion, on Wednesday. Photograph: Esa Alexander/Reuters

Dean Elgar’s unbeaten on 140 propelled South Africa to 256 for 5, in reply to India's 245 all out, made possible by a brilliant hundred from K L Rahul, before bad light brought early stumps on the second day's proceedings in the first Test, at SuperSport Park, in Centurion, on Wednesday.

Set to retire from international cricket after the ongoing series, Elgar made batting look easy on a spongy pitch after the early dismissal of Aiden Markram (5).

 

The left-handed Elgar went on the offensive against a wayward Indian attack, whose third and fourth pacers were ineffective. He shared two crucial partnerships -- first, a 93-run stand with Tony de Zorzi (28) for the second wicket, and then 131 runs for the fourth wicket with debutant David Bedingham (56) -- to hand South Africa a slight edge going into Day 3.

David Bedingham is bowled by Mohammed Siraj

IMAGE: David Bedingham is bowled by Mohammed Siraj. Photograph: Esa Alexander/Reuters

It was Elgar's 14th Test century and only second against India. He has so far struck 23 fours during his unbeaten 211-ball knock as South Africa lead India by 11 runs.

The conditions remained bowling-friendly as clouds hovered over throughout the second day, but it was Mohamamed Shami's absence and ineptitude of Shardul Thakur (0/57 in 12 overs) and inability of debutant Prasidh Krishna (1/61 in 15 overs) that hurt India dearly as neither found the right line nor the length on the day.

Jasprit Bumrah (2/48 in 16 overs), in his comeback Test, gave his all and Mohammed Siraj (2/63 in 15 overs) was 200 percent honest in his effort but two couldn't have done the job which required all four to sing from the same hymn sheet.

David Bedingham celebrates his half-century

IMAGE: David Bedingham celebrates his half-century. Photograph: Esa Alexander/Reuters

Ravichandran Ashwin (0/19 in 8 overs) kept things tight but this isn't the pitch where one can expect him to run through the opposition.

On the day, Indian bowlers were hammered for 37 boundaries and two sixes.

Elgar nicely blended defence with a plethora of pulls and tucks off his legs and ferocious cuts. He left a few deliveries during the first 30 minutes and missed a few before Shardul and Prasidh played into his hands.

By the time, Siraj castled Bedingham and Prasidh got his first Test victim in Kyle Verreynne, India had lost the initiative.

Mohammed Siraj celebrates with his India teammates after dismissing South Africa opener Aiden Markram.

IMAGE: Mohammed Siraj celebrates with his India teammates after dismissing South Africa opener Aiden Markram. Photograph: Esa Alexander/Reuters

The Gujarat slinger earlier ended the 93-run second wicket stand by bowling a perfect off-cutter to southpaw Tony de Zorzi (28 off 62 balls), which pitched on length and moved enough to take a thick outside edge into the hands of Yashasvi Jaiswal at third slip.

Keegan Petersen (2), India's nemesis during the previous tour, lasted only seven deliveries, as he lazily played away from his body and dragged a slightly back of the length delivery coming in with the angle onto his stumps.

Jasprit Bumrah celebrates the wicket of Keegan Petersen.

IMAGE: Jasprit Bumrah gets a pat on the back from his India teammates after taking the wicket of Keegan Petersen. Photograph: Esa Alexander/Reuters

However, the dismissals did not deter Elgar, who hit as many as 21 boundaries and was quick to cut and pull whenever anything short came his way.

While Thakur drifted on Elgar's pads, Prasidh, who had a not so memorable half-century to his name, either bowled too full or too short.

He was imperiously pulled for a six by South African debutant David Bedingham (32 batting) in an unbroken stand of 81.

 Dean Elgar celebrates his half century

IMAGE: Dean Elgar celebrates his half century. Photograph: Esa Alexander/Reuters

Earlier in the day, Rahul's 101 off 137 balls, on a track offering variable bounce, propelled India to a respectable total. It was one of his most satisfying hundreds in extremely difficult batting conditions as India got to an above-par first innings score.

Starting the day unbeaten on 70, Rahul's brilliant hundred could well be considered on par with some of the best knocks played by Indians in SENA countries if the degree of difficulty is taken into account.

K L Rahul scored 101 off 137 balls, which included 14 fours and 4 sixes, in India's first innings

IMAGE: K L Rahul scored 101 off 137 balls, which included 14 fours and 4 sixes, in India's first innings. Photograph: Esa Alexander/Reuters

No Test batter from any other country has been able to score two Test hundreds at the Supersport Park; Rahul now holds that unique record.

His innings was studded with 14 boundaries and four sixes; most of the time he decided to ride the bounce rather than get on top of it en route his eighth Test ton.

KL Rahul

IMAGE: KL Rahul hits a six to complete his century. Photograph: Esa Alexander/Reuters

Dropped earlier this year during the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in India on account of poor form, this was a comeback where he was literally the lone ranger.

Consistency has been the problem for the Bengaluru man but class has never been an issue, as his range is as good as a Virat Kohli or Rohit Sharma.

K L Rahul reacts after losing his wicket as South Africa's Nandre Burger celebrates.

IMAGE: K L Rahul reacts after losing his wicket as South Africa's Nandre Burger celebrates. Photograph: Esa Alexander/Reuters

The ramp shot off Kagiso Rabada (5/59 in 20 overs) was pure class, while a quick bye run stolen off Gerald Coetzee to prevent a genuine No. 11 Prasidh Krishna from facing more of the fast bowler was pragmatic.

Rahul got into the 90s with a smashing six, picking Rabada's length very early and dispatching him into square leg grass embankments.

The hundred came when he slogged Coetzee into the ‘Cow Corner' for his fourth and final maximum.

There were no overt celebrations; he must have felt more relief than joy after an effort which will certainly rank among his best in recent times.

Mohammad Siraj

IMAGE: Gerald Coetzee celebrates with his South Africa teammates after dismissing Mohammed Siraj. Photograph: Esa Alexander/Reuters

Credit must go to Siraj (5 off 22 balls) for hanging around. The 47 runs added for the ninth wicket could prove invaluable in the final context of the match. 

India added 37 runs from 8.4 overs in the morning session. The visitors faced 67.4 overs in their first innings.

For South Africa,  Coetzee and Nandre Burger took a wicket apiece on Wednesday.

Kagiso Rabada completed a five-wicket haul on the opening day.

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