Ravichandran Ashwin celebrates with Rohit Sharma after scalping Aiden Markram ending his brilliant 150-ball 94 runs knock
Centurion: India surged back into contention against South Africa after two run outs late on Saturday, including the key wicket of Hashim Amla, saw the hosts slip to 269 for six at the close on the opening day of the second Test.
South Africa had seemed set for a big first innings total when they reached 246 for three but some brilliant fielding and poor decision making combined to rattle their middle order and leave the honours even after the first day.
Home captain Faf du Plessis is not out on 24 and will resume his innings on Sunday with Keshav Maharaj (10) on a slow wicket that is expected to quicken over the next few days. Amla looked in total control of his innings and struck 14 fours in his 82 before being called through for a risky single by Du Plessis.
The bowler, Hardik Pandya, reacted quickly though and his speed to the ball, swivel and quick release to the bowlers’ end found Amla two feet short. Quinton de Kock was then out for a first ball duck, caught at slip by India captain Virat Kohli off the bowling of hard-working spinner Ravichandran Ashwin (3-90), who sent down an impressive 31 overs on the opening day.
The hosts' misery was compounded when Vernon Philander was also out without scoring, charging down the wicket for a run as Du Plessis screamed at him from the non-striker's end to stop. Both players ended up on the same side of the wicket.
The poor half-hour undid the excellent work of opener Aiden Markram earlier as he compiled an eye-catching 94 before being caught by wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel off Ashwin, denied a third Test century in seven innings.
Dean Elgar (31) was Ashwin’s other victim, while impressive seamer Ishant Sharma (1-32) induced an edge from the dangerous AB de Villiers (20) onto his own wicket.
The wicket has also shown some variable bounce already and is expected to break up on days four and five. Earlier, South Africa's Aiden Markram fell six runs short of what would have been a sparkling century as the hosts continued to dominate the opening day of the second Test against India, reaching 182 for two at tea on Saturday. Markram edged a delivery from spinner Ravichandran Ashwin to wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel on 94 coming from 150 balls as he was denied a third Test century in his seventh innings.
Hashim Amla (35 not out) and AB de Villiers (16 not out) will resume after the interval, looking to build a commanding first innings total for South Africa on what is a slow wicket that is due to quicken up on the second and third days. The home side can clinch the three-match series with a win, having taken the first Test in Cape Town with a 72-run victory. Amla has had two pieces of good fortune already, dropped on 30 by Hardik Pandya off Ashwin and then again on the same total when Patel made a hash of a nick down the leg-side from the bowling of seamer Ishant Sharma.
Ashwin (2-53) also claimed the wicket of opener Dean Elgar (31) as the left-hander stroked a delivery into the body of silly point Murali Vijay, who reacted brilliantly to grasp the ball as it rebounded off him. South Africa had resumed after lunch on 78 without loss and 23-year-old Markram seemed set for his century as he took the attack to the Indian bowlers.
After Test tons against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe since his September debut, Markram now also has two scores in the 90s having made a fine start to his five-day career as the answer to South Africa’s long-running issues with the opening position.
South Africa, who won the toss and elected to bat, handed a debut to tall seamer Lungi Ngidi who is regarded as a hugely promising talent and will expect to get steep bounce at a brisk pace on his home pitch in provincial cricket.