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India leads 2nd test in South Africa, tight finish looms

January 4, 2022 GMT
South Africa's batsman Keshav Maharaj is bowled by India's bowler Jasprit Bumrah, during the second day of the 2nd Test Cricket match between South Africa and India at the Wanderers stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
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South Africa's batsman Keshav Maharaj is bowled by India's bowler Jasprit Bumrah, during the second day of the 2nd Test Cricket match between South Africa and India at the Wanderers stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
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South Africa's batsman Keshav Maharaj is bowled by India's bowler Jasprit Bumrah, during the second day of the 2nd Test Cricket match between South Africa and India at the Wanderers stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — India took a 58-run lead over South Africa by stumps on the second day of the second test on Tuesday and the match was heading for a tight finish on a tricky Wanderers pitch where any score over 200 appeared to be competitive.

Cheteshwar Pujara (35 not out) and Ajinkya Rahane (11 not out) guided India to 85-2 in its second innings at the close, and India hoped it could expand that slender 58-run advantage to a series-winning one on the third day.

India leads the three-match series 1-0 and is seeking a slice of history from its first test series win in South Africa.

But nothing was guaranteed on a Wanderers surface that has seen India bowled out for 202 in its first innings and South Africa reply with 229 all out.

The seam bowlers ruled in Johannesburg, and especially India’s Shardul Thakur, who was magnificent for career-best figures of 7-61 and who almost single-handedly stopped South Africa taking control.

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South Africa started the day 35-1 in its first innings and built itself into a position of strength at 88-1 when Thakur struck three times in quick succession before lunch to remove Proteas captain Dean Elgar for 28, Keegan Petersen for 62 and Rassie van der Dussen for 1. Suddenly, South Africa went to lunch 102-4.

South Africa rebuilt in the afternoon and appeared set to forge well ahead at 162-4 only for Thakur to intervene again. This time, he broke a 60-run stand between Temba Bavuma and Kyle Verreynne. He ended up removing both, seeing off Bavuma for 51 and adding two more lower-order wickets.

The game swung yet again late in the afternoon when openers KL Rahul, standing in as India captain for the injured Virat Kohli, and Mayank Agarwal went cheaply and India was 44-2 in its second innings.

The experienced Pujara and Rahane, who might be playing for their places after poor runs of form, steadied things and made sure there was no more damage before stumps.

Pujara didn’t just defend, as he cracked seven fours in his 35 not out from just 42 balls to counterattack. Rahane dug in alongside him.

Their partnership, which was 41 off 52 balls, might be crucial for the match and the series with no Kohli to help after the captain and batting superstar was ruled out before the game with an upper back spasm.

Top-ranked India is seeking to finally crack South Africa and win a test series in the country on its eighth attempt.

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