SA have handy lead but will be worried about Steyn's heel
South Africa ended the second day of the first test against India at Newlands on Saturday with a healthy lead of 142 runs.
But they will be more interested in the health of fast bowler Dale Steyn‚ who left the field with a bruised heel during the last over before tea and did not return.
Steyn‚ who is making his comeback from 13 months out with a shoulder injury‚ needs three more wickets to surpass Shaun Pollock as South Africa’s most successful test bowler.
The home side reached the close on 65/2 in their second innings with Hashim Amla on four and nightwatchman Kagiso Rabada two not out.
India’s first innings of 209‚ their reply to South Africa’s 286‚ was dominated by Hardik Pandya’s 93.
Pandya came to the crease when India slumped to 76/5‚ the first turn of a tumble in which‚ in 33 balls‚ they lost three wickets for 16 runs and teetered to 92/7.
The slide was halted in a stand of 99 with Bhuvneshwar Kumar‚ who scored 25 off the 86 balls he faced.
Pandya showed no such reticence to attack‚ hitting 14 fours and a six off the 95 balls bowled to him.
He was dropped by Dean Elgar in the gully off Steyn when he was 15 and should have been stumped by Quinton de Kock off Keshav Maharaj when he was 69.
India lost three wickets in the 11 overs they faced on Friday evening‚ and considering the home side’s top order was dismissed in the first five overs on Friday it seemed a similar slide awaited on Saturday morning.
Instead‚ South Africa toiled for 17.2 overs and more than an hour before they claimed the only wicket of the session — Rabada trapped Rohit Sharma in front in the eight over before lunch.
Sharma spent more than an hour-and-a-half and 59 balls on his 11‚ which captured India’s disciplined approach in the face of South Africa’s miserly bowling.
India resumed on 28/3‚ and the score stayed unmoved for four consecutive maidens sent down by Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander.
In all 10 of the 25 overs bowled in the session were scoreless and only 48 runs were scored.
But India would have been satisfied that they didn’t lose more than one wicket.
That changed with the first ball after lunch‚ which Cheteshwar Pujara slashed a Philander outswinger to gully to end a stay of more than two-and-a-half hours in which he faced 92 balls and scored 26.
In his next over Philander had Ravichandran Ashwin spectacularly caught by De Kock‚ who dived in front of first slip.
Seventeen balls after that Wriddhiman Saha was trapped in front by Steyn with what became his last strike of the day.
That was the cue for Pandya and Kumar to start their fightback‚ and seven overs after it ended India were dismissed with Philander and Rabada sharing six wickets and Steyn and Morne Morkel the remaining four.
Aiden Markram and Elgar shared 52 for South Africa’s first wicket before Markram sliced a pull off Pandya to backward point to go for 34.
Elgar also fell to Pandya when he was caught behind for 25 in the fourth over before the close.
Allrounder Pandya took 2/17.