Centurion Test: Ashwin takes three but S Africa in control

Newlands same old story

Ravichandran Ashwin said on Saturday that leaving Johannesburg wicketless during the fourth innings of a Test match four years ago had made him determined to make an impact whenever India returned to South Africa.

India set South Africa 458 to win with more than a day to bowl them out. They are born and brought up on those pitches.

I was on a holiday in Thailand during the first Test, so did not see much of it until witnessing the highlights when I got back to SA. But such counter-attacking and full-of-risk knock does not not pay off always and captain Virat Kohli and chief coach Ravi Shastri know that.

In what as a far cry from the rapid pace and bounce promised ahead of the match, a flat surface devoid of any demons greeted South Africa and India at the SuperSport Park. The hosts have not lost at this venue since 2014.

Morne Morkel will be the third seamer, with Chris Morris likely to play in place of the injured Dale Steyn. The decision was to strengthen the batting.

Rookie pacers Duanne Olivier and Lungi Ngidi have been added to the squad and skipper Faf du Plessis may be lured into fielding either of them.

And the way the South Africans started their innings, it appeared things were going to get really worse for the Indian team as Dean Elgar and Markram looked largely unperturbed against the fast bowlers from the visiting team.

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He said the game was pretty even as this point.

He deal with disdain whenever the Indian pace bowlers erred in line and length and was also good against Ashwin.

The Proteas under coach Ottis Gibson might be building a reputation of being a bold and attacking team but they're also one with a habit of making things unnecessarily hard for themselves.

Among the most criticised batsmen were Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan due to their highly disappointing performance in the opening test, later of whom was replaced by KL Rahul but Sharma stays put in the team. Their attitude of dominating the bowlers with a flurry of strokes will not work. Every batsman presents their opposition with chances, few make them pay for missing those chances as much as Amla. They must curtail their habit of going after the deliveries.

In a period in which the consistency of Amla's form has been questionable - his three hundreds in 2017 came against weak Sri Lankan and Bangladesh attacks at home - and his temperament a touch on the impatient side, that shot was the reassurance that even against more challenging packs, Amla is still ace. Opener Aiden Markram (94), playing on his home ground, missed a well-deserved century by a whisker after he was caught behind off Ashwin.

If Kohli wins the toss, opting to bowl will be obvious option. He persevered in an admirable manner and was aptly rewarded with the scalps of both opening batsmen. First, in the 81st over, Amla was run-out against the run of play, getting mixed up with du Plessis as he set off for a single but Hardik Pandya (0-37) found the target on the non- striker's end off his bowling.

"Your confidence isn't dented after one Test match... if your confidence goes away after one match you don't deserve to play".

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