South Africa in driving seat of first Test despite Hardik Pandya heroics

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Hardik Pandya went on a thrilling counter-attack but could not prevent South Africa from finishing on top on the second day of the first Test at Newlands on Saturday.

Pandya scored a swashbuckling 93, then took two wickets, but South Africa built on a first innings lead of 77 and were 65 for two at the close, an overall lead of 142 on a pitch which has helped fast bowlers.

India had slumped to 92 for seven in reply to South Africa’s first innings total of 286 when Pandya found a determined ally in Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

While 24-year-old Pandya went for his shots, Kumar took 34 balls to score his first run but then played some fine strokes of his own, scoring 25 in an eighth wicket partnership of 99 which more than doubled their team’s total.

The partnership frustrated the South African bowlers and kept them in the field long enough for Dale Steyn to give South Africa another injury scare.

Hardik Pandya 2

Steyn, in his first Test match since suffering a fractured shoulder in Australia in November 2014, had taken two for 51 when he pulled up with a bruised heel and left the field three balls into his 18th over.

After treatment in the dressing room he was sent for a scan.

Steyn would have hoped to end Pandya’s innings – and hasten the demise of the Indian batting effort — long before he was called upon to bowl a fourth spell in what was his longest and most intensive bowling effort since his shoulder injury.

Pandya struggled against Steyn early in his innings. He survived on a review after being given out caught behind off the fast bowler on five and was dropped by Dean Elgar at gully off Steyn when he had 15.

Pandya, 24, confirmed the reputation he earned as a dashing stroke player, first in limited overs cricket and more recently when he scored 178 runs off 168 balls in three Test innings in Sri Lanka last year, including 108 off 96 deliveries in the third Test in Kandy.

He hit 14 fours on Saturday as well as a six off left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj’s second ball of the match. He charged out to the next ball and should have been stumped with his score on 71.

Kumar was caught behind off Morne Morkel when Pandya was on 85.

If anything, Pandya stepped up his aggressive attitude after the dismissal of Kumar, swinging at a succession of short-pitched deliveries from Morkel and Kagiso Rabada.

His luck ran out when he flashed at a lifting ball from Rabada and was caught behind. 

Rabada finished with three for 34, while Vernon Philander took three for 33. Morkel and Steyn shared the other four wickets.

Pandya’s innings was in contrast to the struggles of most of the other Indian batsmen who were kept under pressure by South Africa’s barrage of four fast bowlers.

Cheteshwar Pujara laboured to 26 off 92 balls, while Rohit Sharma took 59 balls to score 11.

South Africa made a good start to their second innings, with Aiden Markram and Dean Elgar putting on 52 for the first wicket before Pandya dismissed both openers in successive overs.

Provided by AFP Sport

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Indian Cricket Year in Review

Ashish Peter 25/12/2017
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2017 has been a year to remember for Virat Kohli and India.

It has been a year to cherish for Virat Kohli and his men in all formats of the game and they ended 2017 on a perfect note by completing a 3-0 whitewash of Sri Lanka in the T20I series.

The Men in Blue have maintained their grasp at the top of the ICC Test rankings and have ended the year behind only South Africa and Pakistan respectively in the ODI and T20I format.

Here, we take a look at the key talking points from a year which seen the Indian team scale new heights.

TEST DOMINATION

After seeing off England at home towards the end of 2016, India hosted Bangladesh for a one-off Test for the first time in their history and duly registered a 208-run victory.

Kohli’s men were then put under some intense pressure in the Test series against Australia. After losing the first Test in the four-match series, the hosts overcame stiff resistance from Steve Smith’s men to take the series 2-1.

They then created history in Sri Lanka by handing the islanders a 3-0 whitewash in their own backyard. This was the first time since 1967-68 that an Indian side had won three Test matches in an away series.

India then entertained Sri Lanka in a three-match series at home towards the end of the year and once again triumphed, albeit by a smaller margin of 1-0 this time.

It was a dominant year for India in Test cricket.

It was a dominant year for India in Test cricket.

ICC CHAMPIONS TROPHY DISAPPOINTMENT

Kohli’s troops were on song in the ICC Champions Trophy held in England in the summer where they beat the likes of Pakistan, South Africa and Bangladesh to enter the final as heavy favourites.

Their opposition in the summit tie were arch-rivals Pakistan in an encounter which had the cricket world licking its lips in anticipation. However, the Men in Blue were dealt a crushing defeat by a resurgent Sarfraz Ahmed-led side in perhaps their only disappointment in an otherwise unblemished year.

Kohli's men were handed a crushing defeat by Pakistan in the final.

Kohli’s men were handed a crushing defeat by Pakistan in the final.

VIRAT KOHLI’S YEAR TO REMEMBER

The Indian skipper might have led his side to some excellent wins in 2017 but it was his personal form with the bat which caught the eye.

The recently hitched 29-year-old performed admirably across all formats clocking in 2,818 international runs for the year, which is the third highest by any batsman in history. In the ODI format, the right-handed batsman went past Ricky Ponting’s record of 30 tons and is now only behind Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 49 hundreds.

He ended the year with two back-to-back double tons against Sri Lanka, making him the first skipper to score six double hundreds. The superstar cricketer registered 11 tons in 2017 – six in ODIs and five in Tests, another world record.

That he ended the year as the top ranked ODI batsman and behind only Steve Smith in Tests is a testament to the brilliant 2017 Kohli has had.

Kohli has had a stellar year individually.

Kohli has had a stellar year individually.

WRIST-SPIN THE NEW MANTRA FOR INDIA IN LIMITED-OVERS CRICKET

Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja have been instrumental in India’s rise to the top of the Test rankings and the spin-twins have had stellar individual years. In the five-day format, Ashwin and Jadeja are the second and fourth highest wicket-takers respectively in the calendar year underlining their importance to the Indian side.

However, the Indian think tank has opted for a new direction in the limited-overs format since their Champions Trophy defeat to Pakistan. The senior spin pair has been sidelined in favour of the wrist-spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. The two spinners have been heavily amongst the wickets in ODIs and T20Is for India this year with Chahal capturing 44 wickets and Yadav scalping 34.

Chahal, along with Yadav, has emerged as India's preferred spin options.

Chahal, along with Yadav, has emerged as India’s preferred spin options.

INDIA’S RECORD YEAR

India’s victory over Sri Lanka in the final T20I at Mumbai meant that the hosts finished 2017 with 37 wins across all formats out of a total of 57 matches. This is the highest India have achieved in any year and only the second best in history behind Australia’s record of 38 wins in 2003.

India’s win/loss ratio of 3.1 is also the second best in history behind the same Aussie side of 2003 which had a staggering ratio of 4.8.

Overall, India won 37, losing 12 along with four matches with no result.

Kohli has led India to a record year in terms of results.

Kohli has led India to a record year in terms of results.

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Adelaide Oval invites Virat Kohli to get married at historic venue

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Adelaide Oval played host to the recently concluded second Ashes Test.

Of late, there has been speculation that India skipper Virat Kohli will be tying the knot soon with Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma.

The 29-year-old has been granted a break from the limited-overs matches against Sri Lanka and social media has been abuzz with rumours of an impending marriage for the Indian cricketing superstar.

Adelaide Oval, the picturesque and historic venue in Australia was recently host to the second Ashes Test which hosts Australia won to take a 2-0 lead in the series.

Not content with hosting the first-ever day-night Ashes Test, the venue now wants to host Kohli’s marriage in case the Indian skipper does decide to take the plunge.

In an interview with the Hindustan Times, Adelaide Oval CEO Andrew Daniels extended an invitation to the celebrity couple, offering its world class facilities for their marriage ceremony.

“We would be thrilled to host Virat and Anushka’s wedding at Adelaide Oval. How fantastic would it be for Virat to create more happy memories here, considering his outstanding playing history at the Oval,” Daniels had said.

Kohli has scored three Test tons in four innings at the Adelaide Oval.

Kohli has scored three Test tons in four innings at the Adelaide Oval.

“With 26 purpose-built function spaces to choose from, combined with a showcase of South Australia’s finest food and wine it would be an unforgettable day for the future Mr and Mrs Kohli and their guests,” he added.

Kohli and the Adelaide Oval have a special relationship with the Indian batsman having scored more Test tons at the ground than any other venue in the sport.

In just four innings at the venue, Kohli has registered three of his 20 Test hundreds at a staggering average of 98.50! He has also notched an ODI ton at the same venue, making it a special ground for him personally.

It remains to be seem if there are any legs to the rumours about Kohli’s impending marriage but should the star cricketer ever decide to take the step, the Adelaide Oval sure would make a fitting venue.

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