Twitter Reactions: Shardul Thakur's sensational seven-fer keeps Johannesburg Test in balance

India now have a lead of 58 runs in the second innings with eight wickets in hand.

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Shardul Thakur
Shardul Thakur. (Photo Source: Twitter)

The second Test between South Africa and India is hanging by a thread after an exciting day’s play on Tuesday (January 4). Like it happened on the opening day, 11 wickets fell while runs also came at a fair clip much to the delight of the batters. Shardul Thakur was the star of the day bagging as many as seven wickets and helping India restrict South Africa’s lead to 27.

The day began with Keegan Petersen and Dean Elgar looking to keep India at bay and they were successful at it for the most parts of the opening session as well. In between, they survived a number of jaffas from the pacers, especially Mohammed Shami who was threatening yet again. Petersen made the most of the reprieve from Rishabh Pant late on the first day and played some brilliant strokes.

He is already rated highly in the South African cricket and everyone witnessed a glimpse of his talent. At the other end, Elgar just stayed put blunting the Indian attack. However, drama unfolded in the final 30 mins of the session. Shardul Thakur moved one just enough to take the edge of Elgar’s bat and end his 120-ball vigil for just 28 runs. The wicket opened up the floodgates.

Keegan Petersen who had batted so well until then went for a drive off a pitched up delivery only to edge it to the slips. Nevertheless, he scored 62 runs and his wicket came at a perfect time for the visitors. India were up for more jubilation when Thakur cut Rassie van der Dussen into half and Rishabh Pant did well to grab a low catch. Interestingly, at the time, nobody questioned the catch with even the batter walking away and the umpire giving it out.

The replays crept doubts in the minds with even Dean Elgar and the South Africa team manager having a discussion with the third umpire. However, in the end it was deemed out with there being no conclusive evidence to overturn the on-field decision. India would’ve hoped to wrap things up quickly in the post-lunch session. But the pocket-sized dynamo, Temba Bavuma stood strong yet again.

He got an able ally in Kyle Verreynne as the duo added 60 runs in around only 18 overs. Just when India had started to get nervous, that man, Thakur, struck yet again and from 162/4, the hosts were suddenly reeling at 179/7 with the Indian team also harbouring dreams of sneaking out a lead. It wasn’t to be though thanks to some solid resistance from Keshav Maharaj and Marco Jansen who scored 21 runs each.

Thakur was the hero for India picking his maiden five-wicket haul and ending with magical figures of 7/61 as South Africa posted 229 runs taking a small but crucial 27-run lead in the first innings.

Rahane-Pujara key for India on Day 3

The Indian openers KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal once again started confidently in the second innings. But the stand-in skipper was trumpd by Jansen in the very first over of his spell. Agarwal, as usual, was timing the ball superbly smashing five fours in his 23-run knock. However, he badly misjudged an incoming delivery off Duanne Olivier and was trapped plumb in front having shouldered his arms.

At 44/2 and with India’s two under pressure cricketers, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, in the middle, South Africa would’ve certainly hoped for more success before stumps. But the experienced duo, especially the former, came out with a different mindset and made sure to score runs whenever possible. Pujara was playing his drives confidently while Rahane also looked composed.

Both added an unbeaten 41 runs in less than nine overs for the third wicket stretching the team’s lead to 58 runs. India ended Day 2 at 85/2 after 20 overs with Pujara batting on 35 off only 42 deliveries with seven fours while Rahane mustered 11 runs. The first session will be key for this duo on the third morning as not only the match but their careers are also hanging by the thread.

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