This is as good a position as India could have hoped of putting themselves at the beginning of the day. Virat Kohli hammered a 254* – his first Test century in 2019 – as India posted a mammoth 601/5 declared in the first innings. Then, with 15 overs left in the day, South Africa were reduced to 36/3. This could well be a mauling.
South Africa have only themselves to blame, though. There were dropped chances, regular misfields and overthrows, and in short, they were a complete shambles. They looked directionless, had every bit of fight taken out of them, and for India, it was a demonstration of how to dismantle a professional Test side. South Africa will need to forget this day soon if they want to salvage some pride in the Test.
That’ll be easier said than done. India have their tail up, thanks to their captain. Kohli has had a lean year by his own lofty standards, but he has made up for lost chances by notching up his career-best Test score, which was also his seventh double hundred in the format, and took him past the legendary Australian pair of Sir Don Bradman and Steve Smith in terms of runs scored. That’s quite an outing.
He batted for most of the day, and South Africa only managed to pick up two wickets throughout – that of Ajinkya Rahane in the morning, and much, much later of Ravindra Jadeja, who was dismissed for 91, attempting to accelerate. India declared midway through the final session, but if South Africa hoped that would end their misery, they were mistaken.
Umesh Yadav, playing his first Test since the Perth Test in December 2018, had Aiden Markram (0) and Dean Elgar (6) dismissed in consecutive overs early in the innings. When, in the tenth over, the scalp of Temba Bavuma was added to the list by Mohammed Shami, the writing was on the wall for South Africa.
They now need to show some grit, much like they did in the first Test. Whether they’re capable of another such performance, especially without Elgar, is less of a certainty. Day three should see India take a stranglehold of proceedings, if we’re being lenient and saying they already haven’t.
Umesh Yadav (India): Yadav has something about him, this time. For long as he waited in the sidelines while the likes of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami have impressed, but now that he finally has his chance, he seems determined to make the most of it. His wickets of Elgar and Markram were testament to that. However, there are also runs in him, and South Africa will need to be aware of that.
Faf du Plessis (South Africa): The captain needs to stand up now. South Africa were directionless in the field, and that doesn’t reflect well on their captain. He now needs to lead from the front with the bat, show some fight and determination. It’s imperative he does to save the pride of the side.
India 601/5 declared (Mayank Agarwal 108, Virat Kohli 254*, Ravindra Jadeja 91; Kagiso Rabada 3/93) vs South Africa 36/3 (Theunis de Bruyn 20*; Umesh Yadav 2/16)
India are too far ahead in this Test. Expect them to bundle out South Africa for a paltry total. Whether they bat again after that remains to be seen.