Thursday, 10 October 2019

KAGISO RABADA showed glimpses of returning to his best form although the Indian batsmen were again in dominant form on the opening day of the second Freedom Series Test match against the Standard Bank Proteas at Pune on Thursday.

They were led by Mayank Agarwal who made his second century of the series (108 off 195 balls, 16 fours and 2 sixes) and who crucially shared a stand of 138 for the second wicket with Cheteshwar Pujara (58 off 112 balls, 9 fours and a six) before Virat Kohli (63 not out off 105 balls, 10 fours) put the finishing touches with an unbroken fourth wicket stand of 75 with Ajinkya Rahane.

It enabled India, who once again won the toss in good batting conditions, to finish on 273/3 before bad light halted play four overs and five balls before the scheduled close.

Rabada struggled to find his rhythm in his new ball spell when he delivered four no balls but, once everything clicked into place, he was the well-oiled machine of old that saw him pick up three wickets with the assistance of some excellent slip catching by Faf du Plessis.

He produced two outstanding three-over spells in the second and third sessions that saw him pick up a combined 2/16 and his final figures for the day of 3/48 in 18.1 overs were well deserved. They could, in fact, have been even better if he had had a better rub of the green.

Both sides went into the match with three seamers with India leaving out a specialist batsman and the Proteas giving Anrich Nortje a debut in the place of Dane Piedt. He became the 103rd player to represent the Proteas in this format.

The bowling unit gave a much better display than they had managed in the first Test with Keshav Maharaj getting better and better as the innings progressed as he kept the run rate conceded down to manageable levels.

With the second new ball only 31 balls old they will fancy their chances of restricting to India to a much lower first innings total than they managed in the first Test match.

Nortje’s figures do not look that impressive (0/60 in 13 overs) but he underlined his potential with his ability to bowl regularly above the 145 km/h pace (his average pace for the innings to date) with several deliveries going through the 150 km/h barrier. Whatever way this series pans out the Proteas will return home for their next series against England knowing that they have blooded two ones to watch for the future in this fast bowler as well as batting all-rounder Senuran Muthusamy.