Lungi Ngidi and Kagiso Rabada lit up the fans of the Proteas with the scorecard come the end of the second innings, as they were involved in taking the last ten wickets South Africa needed to take an unassailable 2-0 lead into the test series. Many would have hoped that the wicket of Centurion would have been a traditional fast bowlers’ paradise; what was prepared was something not totally unplayable, but suited maybe for the spinners. Some would say it was suited more for the Indian batsmen more than the Proteas.
Not much to can be said about the second match. I personally found it to be lacking in the intensity that was shown in the first game. Still a very interesting one to watch, but the intent that India wanted to show may have backfired against them.
As the toss occurred, news had been that Faf requested his men to bat first as well as have Ngidi debut at his home ground in Centurion. South Africa made 335 all out, with Aiden Markram top scoring with 94 before being caught out. Hashim Amla scored second highest with 82 but was then run out. After AB had gone out, Faf was left to watch two of his batting partners (de Kock and Philander) fall cheaply before the end of day one. Day two started with Faf and Maharaj playing to make a good enough score, with massive help from the lower order to keep the tail wagging slightly to make a semi-decent 335.
With India batting just after lunch, they had been going steadily until Morkel took a great catch off his own bowling. Minutes later, a second had fallen as the debutant Ngidi had run Pujara out for a golden duck, leaving India on 28-2. Captain Kohli had to come and make a decent partnership with opener Vijay to put pressure on the hosts. Vijay fell just before the two reached an 80-run partnership. India had ended their batting innings on day three in the session after lunch, with Kohli putting in a magnificent captain’s knock of 153 runs.
SA were to start their second innings with a 28-run lead, and had all sorts of trouble losing two early wickets of Amla and Markram, needing Elgar and AB to rescue the batting with a decent partnership. Stumps was called early on day three due to heavy rains and bad lighting.
Day four started as day three had ended, with SA increasing their lead at a tenacious rate, with runs being scored as a snail high on sleeping tablets. The pitch was going more and more in favour of the bowlers, but not being particularly impossible to play on as the Proteas had made 287 all out, with AB scoring an important 84. The South African bowlers had a day and a session to take ten wickets and defend 287 runs for the series win.
The last innings in which India needed to bat to level the series proved to be quite the interesting one, as the battle between bat and ball had started as an intense one, until Rabada and Ngidi started making inroads within the last session of day four: Rabada had bowled Vijay for 9, and Ngidi getting KL Rahul caught for four. Ngidi had been slightly unlucky in getting the wicket of Captain Kohli in the first innings, but definitely had a delivery that had his name on it. The big wicket of Kohli was Ngidi’s for the taking, and was trapped plumb lbw for 5. Indeed a wicket he will remember for a long time. Stumps had been called on day 4, with South Africa needing seven more wickets and India needing 252 more runs for victory.
Many would say that day five was definitely in South Africa’s court after getting Kohli out. True, but they still had to get the wickets of Pujara, Pandya and Ravi Ashwin who boasts relatively good averages with the bat. Ngidi and Rabada kept chipping away at the wickets in good fashion to keep India out of the game for sure. Speaking on run outs, from both teams in both innings, there had been a total of five run outs. Of those five run outs, two had gone to Pujara, as he was run out for 19 in the second innings attempting to run three.
The man of the match went to Lungi Ngidi, making him the seventh Protea to be given this award on debut. The last match in the test series is to take place at the Wanderers on Wednesday the 24th of January.
My play of the match most definitely went to the two quicks in Rabada and Ngidi taking nine of ten of the wickets to win the match and series for South Africa. It definitely is a bowling partnership that Protea fans can witness for a long time – hoping that injuries stay away and consistency stays. Now the SA selectors have to look at the type of wicket at the Bull Ring and consider the eleven to go into that match to hopefully clinch a whitewash. Will they still make do with four fast bowlers, or bring in de Bruyn and/or in place of a quick? Or will Maharaj be dropped? Will Markram be available for the last test? He missed fielding in the last innings after sustaining a quad strain. The starting eleven may change for the last game, but hopefully nothing too drastic in that they would want to keep their ruthless mentally and go for the whitewash.