With the absence of Virat Kohli in the ongoing second Test match, India faced a major batting collapse against South Africa on Day 1 in Johannesburg. With the likes of Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara losing their wickets cheaply, Ravichandran Ashwin played a crucial knock that reignited hope for the visiting camp. The spinner registered 46 runs off 50 balls and also hit six fours during his knock. Speaking on Star Sports, former cricketer Irfan Pathan lauded the veteran’s contribution and said that it was “Crucial, crucial cricket for the Indian team.”
“In between I thought his average could have been much more higher than 30 because he has the ability to bat. But he needed to show his method as far as batting is concerned and scoring some runs. And his 46 is very very crucial runs”, the former all-rounder said.
Coming in at no. 7, the batter had to carry India from a precarious position with wickets falling quickly.
“It came at a time when India were in trouble and someone needed to use their experience. Ashwin used his experience very nicely. He just kept playing the shots because he knew even one ball will take his wicket and that’s why he needed to play those shots which can get him runs”, said Pathan.
“46 is very crucial runs.”
Ashwin was eventually dismissed by Marco Jansen in the 61st over. Receiving a short ball, Ashwin top-edged it towards gully for a catch, which was completed by Keegan Petersen.
After his departure, India lost its tailenders quickly and were bowled out for 202 in 63.1 overs.
The hosts had a poor batting display with Rahane losing his wicket for a golden duck and Pujara could only register three runs.
Other than Ashwin, opener KL Rahul played a noteworthy knock, registering a half-century.
Jansen was in amazing form for the Proteas and took four wickets. Meanwhile, Kagiso Rabada and Duanne Olivier bagged three wickets each.
In response to 202, South Africa ended the day at 35 for one in 18 overs at Stumps. The hosts lost the wicket of Aiden Markram in the final session with Mohammed Shami sending him back to the pavilion.
South Africa currently trail by 167 runs.
On Day 2, the visitors will be aiming to add more pressure on the batters and try to restrict them to a below-par total.
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