On a lively Pune surface, India were off to a cautious start for the loss of opener Rohit Sharma’s wicket to reach 77/1 at lunch on Day 1 of the second Test against South Africa. After Virat Kohli won the toss in his 50th Test as captain and decided to bat, there was plenty of purchase for South Africa’s pacers, but Mayank Agarwal and Cheteshwar Pujara played out a testing session.
Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada bowled in the right areas, with the surface reminding South Africa of their decks back home. There was movement, bounce and carry, which ensured India’s start was very contrasting as compared to Vizag. With three frontline pacers – Anrich Nortje being the debutant – South Africa ensured India were tentative outside off with as many as 20 play and misses in the first 10 overs. Rabada hit the perfect length, squaring Rohit as he edged to Quinton de Kock for the first breakthrough.
Agarwal took a while before he found his timing right with drives. Against Nortje’s pace, Agarwal found a boundary three times in an over. He ducked to a sharp bouncer for the ball to hit the helmet and race away for a four. Towards the end of the session, Agarwal began to flourish, having earlier survived a close LBW shout to Philander.
Philander bowled wonderfully, giving away just eight runs in the seven overs he bowled. Unfortunately for South Africa, they could not quite capitalise on the start. Temba Bavuma put down a chance at short leg when he failed to hold on to a Pujara flick. India’s No. 3 took 13 balls to get off the mark but settled into an approach usually associated with him. Once the initial movement died down, Pujara danced down the wicket to collect a boundary off Keshav Maharaj.
Brief Scores: India 77/1 (Agarwal 34*, Pujara 19*; Rabada 1/26) against South Africa at lunch on Day 1.