Virat Kohli played positively to boost India to 80-2 at tea on day two at Centurion.
South Africa were made to toil for their wickets in the period after lunch. Batting conditions continued to favour the batsmen, and Murali Vijay and Lokesh Rahul appeared settled as the innings progressed to the 10th over.
The complexion of the contest changed in the space of two balls. Morne Morkel took a sharp caught and bowled chance to dismiss Rahul. The debutant Lungi Ngidi was in the game thereafter, racing in to field the ball and then throw down the stumps at the bowler’s end.
Suddenly India were 28-2, and Rahul and Cheteshwar Pujara were back in the pavilion. South Africa had their noses in front.
Enter Virat Kohli. Kagiso Rabada and Ngidi were bowling quickly and aggressively during that period, but weren’t receiving much assistance from the pitch. The India captain was quick to punish several overpitched deliveries, and scored 16 runs off his first nine balls.
Kohli and Vijay managed to steer India to tea without further loss. The Proteas should be looking to break this partnership – worth 52 runs at tea – sooner rather than later after the break.
The seamers haven’t been particularly effective on this track. India off-spinner Ravi Ashwin claimed three wickets on day one, and another scalp earlier on day two.
The Proteas will hope that Keshav Maharaj can do a similar job later today. There is some turn on offer. If South Africa build some pressure after tea they may force another important breakthrough.
As long as Kohli is at the crease, however, India are still in the contest.
SA 335 (1st innings) – Aiden Markram 94, Hashim Amla 82, Ravi Ashwin 4-113, Ishant Sharma 3-46
India 80-2 (1st innings) – Virat Kohli 39 not out, Murali Vijay 31 not out, Morne Morkel 1-24
India trail by 255 runs
Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix