In India one would expect the spinners to really take over in the second innings and to become the biggest threat to the visiting batsmen. Ashwin and Jadeja are indeed more difficult to play as the game goes on as was also the case with the likes of Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh and others before them. However at the present time the Indians have another lethal weapon in Mohammed Shami who sometimes saves his best for when the wickets are dry and dusty in the second innings providing a perfect environment for creating reverse swing. Nowhere was this better demonstrated than in Visakhapatnam last week when he returned figures of 5 -35 and the South Africans were bowled out for 191 in the second innings after Ashwin and Jadeja were given first use of the new ball. Prior to this Test match Shami had accumulated 158 Test wickets with 80 being taken in the second innings at an average of 22.58 compared with 78 in the first innings at 34.47. All of Shami’s five wicket hauls and indeed 6 of his 7 best sets of figures have come in the second innings of Test matches in places like Johannesburg, Perth, Sydney and Centurion as well as Kolkata and Visakhapatnam.
The Hindustan Times reported a lot of problems with the cricket match yesterday in Pune. There were long traffic jams with spectators trying to get access to the stadium around lunch time and lots of chaos with cars trying to exit the area after the close of play. Sarang and I anticipated the latter and accordingly departed a little early. There were also problems with very long queues of people having to convert their on-line purchases into actual tickets before they could access the stadium. These queues were in the full sun and it was extremely hot yesterday compared with the previous two days. There were lots of complaints about the lack of shade within the stadium once people had actually made it inside. Add to this the fact that a spectator ran on to the field to try to touch Rohit Sharma’s feet and you have to wonder if the Maharashtra Cricket Association in Pune is actually capable of putting on a proper show. What is the purpose of employing security to prevent spectators from bringing useful items such as binoculars and umbrellas into the ground when the same security companies are incapable of stopping people from running on to the field of play while the game is actually in progress?
India enforced the follow-on — much to my surprise probably due to the threat of rain interruptions over the next two days. The selection of the extra bowler will have also made a positive contribution to the decision making process especially considering how the Indian players were kept in the field for the entire time on the third day. It was the first time any side had asked the South Africans to follow-on since way back in 2008 at the Lords Test against England when Graeme Smith, Neil McKenzie and Hashim Amla all responded by hitting centuries in the second innings. Starting off needing to score 326 to make the Indians bat again, the visitors lost a wicket in the second over when Markram was lbw to Ishant Sharma. To make matters worse the South Africans didn’t call for a review and the TV replay eventually showed the delivery predicted to be both high and wide of the leg stump ( 0 – 1 ). Markram faced only four deliveries in the match and was lbw twice without scoring a single run. De Bruyn was nearly run out as Elgar got off the mark with a suicidal single in the next over. De Bruyn was dropped by Kohli at third slip off the next over from Umesh Yadav and things were certainly not looking good for the visitors.
Hundreds of school children were admitted into the ground this morning via Gate 3 and they were all carrying back packs and not a single one was searched. The bags would no doubt have contained pens, notebooks and many of the various things everyone else has had to try to smuggle into the ground. The people running the security operation were completely oblivious to the hypocrisy of letting kids, who are perhaps more likely to throw things around bring items into the stadium that were totally banned for grown up responsible adults. Back on the playing field an edge from Elgar off Sharma fell just short of Kohli at third slip. De Bruyn was caught down the leg side of Yadav, a brilliant effort by the wicket-keeper Saha who fully anticipated what was likely to happen and dived full length to his left to catch the ball one-handed 21 –2 ). Du Plessis came out at Number 4 ahead of Bavuma for the first time on this tour.
This weekend hosts a two day Horse Racing Meeting in Pune where there is also a beer festival linked to the Oktoberfest tradition in Bavaria taking place within the grounds and run by the Royal Western India Turf Club. The seventh race today is the Pune Derby but perhaps of more interest to the South Africans is the eighth and last race where a horse called Kruger is scheduled to run. The way this match is developing it looks likely the players will have a chance to jump into a couple of tuk tuks and throw some Rand at the horse’s prospects. It’s a pity that the racing clashes with the cricket as a day out at the races is always good fun in India. The secret to success is to follow the money. Horses win races in India for a good reason and yesterday in Pune 5 out of the 7 races were won by the favourite with the lowest price being even money ( 1 – 1 ).
Shami replaced Ishant Sharma after a five over spell and his first delivery took Elgar completely by surprise as it crashed into his shoulder. Elgar responded by hitting successive boundaries into the off side and taking 12 runs from the over. Ashwin replaced Umesh at the Pavilion End and when the drinks interval arrived after an hour the score was 49 – 2 from 12 overs. Du Plessis survived an Indian review for an lbw shout off Ashwin and Jadeja replaced Shami after a fiery four over spell. Du Plessis was caught by Saha after a juggling act behind the stumps and Ashwin had another wicket ( 70 – 3 ). Elgar attempted a lofted drive to take his score to 50 but he failed to get to the pitch of the ball and the edge was well caught at the second attempt by Yadav running back from mid-off ( 71 – 4 ). Lunch was taken with the score 74 – 4 from 27 overs.
De Kock tried to hit the leather off the first delivery he received from Jadeja after the interval and was bowled (79 – 5 . Bavuma played a few nice shots to the off side boundary before edging Jadeja just short of first slip. Ashwin and Jadeja managed to bowl ten overs in half an hour before Shami returned with the ball 40 overs old. Bavuma was caught at first slip by Rahane at shoulder height off Jadeja having scored 38 ( 125 – 6 ). A short delivery from Shami was fended off by Muthusamy and Rohit Sharma completed a comfortable catch at chest height at wide first slip ( 129 – 7 ). Philander was joined by Maharaj in the middle and once again they managed to frustrate the Indian bowlers. Philander hit Jadeja for two enormous sixes off successive balls just before Maharaj was dropped by Pujara in the covers. Jadeja was not looking best pleased.
Ashwin replaced Shami at the Hill End after a five over spell and Philander edged a ball high towards backward point where perhaps a more alert fielder than Ishant Sharma might have chased after a difficult catch. Philander and Maharaj were still together when Tea was taken with the score 172 – 7 from 61 overs having already added 43 runs for the eighth wicket. Kohli surprised everyone by bowling the first over after tea. He nearly took a wicket too when a lofted shot through the covers wasn’t too far away from where Ashwin was standing. Philander was eventually caught down the leg side off Umesh Yadav when the partnership had already put on 56 runs (185 – 8). Rabada was caught by Rohit Sharma low in the slips in the same over five deliveries later ( 189 – 9 ) and Maharaj was lbw to Jadeja to the second ball from the folowing over. The South Africans were all out for 189 from 67.2 overs and the Indians won the Test match by an innings and 137 runs.
Virat Kohli won the Player of the Match award and Kruger was soundly beaten in the last race of the afternoon. The 1 – 2 on Favourite God’s Plan had won the first race to set up Victorious Sermon to come away with the Pune Derby Trophy later in the afternoon. I have a spare day in Pune before returning to UK for a month, but rest assured there will be more tales of cricket and chaos coming your way before the end of the calendar year.