India were 76-4 and still trailed South Africa by 210 runs at lunch on day two at Newlands.
Survival was clearly the priority for India in the first session on day two. The tourists scored a mere 48 runs during this period, and suffered the solitary loss of Rohit Sharma. Perhaps they will take heart from the fact that they didn’t lose more wickets in seamer-friendly conditions.
For the most part, Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara were content to leave the deliveries that weren’t aimed at their stumps. Vernon Philander hit the right areas from the outset, and Dale Steyn bowled quicker and quicker as his spell progressed. Morne Morkel attempted to rattle the India batsmen with a few short-pitched deliveries early on.
Ultimately, it was Kagiso Rabada who made the breakthrough for the hosts. The fast bowler found the edge of Sharma’s bat and then threw his hands up in frustration when the ball bisected third slip and gully. A couple of overs later, however, Rabada had Sharma out lbw.
India called for a review, and the replays confirmed that the delivery would have hit middle-stump. An hour and 15 minutes into the session, and the Proteas had finally obtained some reward for their hard work with the ball.
Ravi Ashwin, and not Wriddhiman Saha or Hardik Pandya, was sent in next. Captain Faf du Plessis responded by positioning a man at short leg and another at leg gully. Rabada responded by firing the first ball in short, and striking Ashwin on the hand.
India did enough, though, to go to lunch with only four wickets down. It remains to be seen whether they will alter their approach after the break. They are still a long way off South Africa’s first-innings total of 286.
SA 286 (1st innings) – AB de Villiers 65, Faf du Plessis 62, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 4-87, Ravi Ashwin 2-21
India 76-4 (1st innings) – Cheteshwar Pujara 26 not out, Ravi Ashwin 12 not out, Vernon Philander 1-14, Kagiso Rabada 1-15
India trail by 210 runs
Photo: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images