The shoulders were down, even Virat Kohli’s constant chirping from slips had just started to phase out in the backdrop of the beautiful SuperSuport Park. South Africa were coasting at 246 for 3 with Amla nearing a hundred and du Plessis settled in nicely. The fears of falling behind very early in the second Test had just started to saunter in when Hardik Pandya waved his magic wand, again.
After coming to India’s rescue on more than one occasion, first with the bat, then with the ball in the first Test match, Pandya stole the show with his fielding in the second Test.
Known for his athleticism and presence of mind, Pandya brought India back in the game and how. There was nothing special about the back of a length delivery which Amla dabbed just at the side of the wicket. Du Plessis, sensed an opportunity to steal a single and went off quickly, not realizing Amla was already on the backfoot. Unlike the South African captain, Pandya was fully aware of the situation as he reached the ball in the wink of an eye, turned towards the non-striker’s end hurled a bullet-like throw to find Amla short of crease.
Brilliant from Pandya!! pic.twitter.com/co8pUvqUVi— anshul kothari (@slimshady_ansh) January 13, 2018
Amla had to take the reluctant walk back to the hut for 82. The wicket rattled the South Africans. The hosts lost another two – de Kock to Ashiwn and Philander to a dreadful run out, no Pandya-like brilliance but a an error in judgment by Philander himself.
From 246 for 3 South Africa went to 251 for 6, all of sudden the ‘bat India out of the Test match’ thought went out of the window. Du Plessis stemmed the collapse and saw his team through at close of play with Keshav Maharaj for company but the damage was done, not by the Indian seamers but by Hardik Pandya’s brilliance in the field and Ravichandran Ashwin’s controlled off-spin.