Shardul Thakur picks up seven as India fight back on Day 2

Shardul Thakur picks up seven as India fight back on Day 2

Team India produced a spirited fightback on day two of the second Test in Johannesburg, with Shardul Thakur stealing the headlines with a stellar seven-wicket haul. Thakur’s 7 for 61 is the best figures by an Indian in South Africa, and his efforts helped the Men in Blue bowl out the Proteas for 229 after half-centuries from Keegan Petersen and Temba Bavuma. In reply, India lost both openers early on, but the visitors finished the day with a lead of 58 runs after some aggressive batting from Cheteshwar Pujara in the final hour of play.

Having taken a 27-run first-innings lead, South Africa got off to a promising start with the ball as Marco Jansen dismissed KL Rahul in the 7th over, finding the outside edge with an incoming delivery that flew to Aiden Markram at second slip. His partner, Mayank Agarwal, looked fluent at the crease and creamed five boundaries in his knock of 23 before once again getting out after a promising start. After playing a booming cover drive, the opener suffered a brain fade, shouldering arms to an inswinger from Duanne Olivier that trapped him on the pads.

The loss of both openers exposed India’s weakened middle order, but the veteran duo of Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara dragged the visitors out of the woods in the final hour of play with some positive stroke-play. Cheteshwar Pujara, in particular, showed remarkably different intent compared to his first innings struggle, taking India to 85 for two at stumps to give them a lead of 58.

Earlier in the day, Keegan Petersen and Dean Elgar survived a testing spell of fast bowling from Mohammad Shami and Jasprit Bumrah, sharing a vital 74-run stand that frustrated the Indian bowling unit. The partnership was eventually broken by Shardul Thakur, with the medium-pacer nicking off Dean Elgar after another gritty knock of 28.

Thakur continued to wreak havoc with his probing lengths and picked up two further wickets before Lunch, squaring up Keegan Petersen on 62 before getting Rassie van der Dussen to under-edge one to Rishabh Pant behind the stumps, although replays suggested that the ball may have not fully carried to the keeper.

After the break, Temba Bavuma and Kyle Verreynne steadied the ship with another half-century stand, but Shardul Thakur answered his captain’s call once again to break the partnership, trapping the wicketkeeper on his pads with a delivery that tailed in. The Mumbai seamer sealed his maiden Test five-fer with the wicket of Temba Bavuma in his next over, and after a pair of 21s from Marco Jansen and Keshav Maharaj, Thakur wrapped up the innings by picking up the final two scalps in the space of four balls.