South Africa tour of India, 2nd Test: India v South Africa at Bangalore, Nov 14-18, 2015

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Oh, it’s raining. Not terribly, since the broadcaster is still conducting interviews on the turf. However, it is enough for the groundsmen to cover the square. Any bets on a stop-start day?

Ramaneesh Goyal: “Hey Al, are you and Deivarayan Muthu related?” —- Yep, he’s my kid brother, and he’s enjoying the Cricket All-Stars, where Sachin Tendulkar has hit a rollicking fifty and Virender Sehwag auditioned for Indian Idol: sings while hitting sixes.

I’d agree that a lot of South Africa’s troubles were self-inflicted, but it would be a disservice to India’s spinners to say that was all it was. The flight and dip and control that R Ashwin for one has been getting – not just in this Test, but since the Bangladesh tour in June – has been riveting to watch. It’s difficult to think of an offspinner in the current game who has as much confidence and skill as he does. An example of it was the field he had bowled to yesterday to the right-handers. No cover. Nobody. And that was a first-session pitch which had as much chance for spin as I had of scoring a century on it. Imagine Ashwin’s mindset to employ such a field and then succeed with it – he got two wickets in his first six balls, remember. Well, if you don’t, Karthik Krishnaswamy sure does. A lovely piece, that unfurls like a magicians hanky. You’re left wanting more and more and more.

“Don’t downplay your batting ability, Al. We all know you narrowly missed out on the opener spot in the Cricinfo commentator’s XI.” Ack, Deepak has been spying on me. On a different note, I’m a proper celebrity now.

“Considering the prospect that rains may make this effectively a 3-day-Test, it will be interesting to see how the two captains handle it, from this point,” Jose P reminds us all. “India had the better of the 1st day, partly from the not-so-discretionary strokes of SA batters barring AB. Indian batsmen are equally adept in lapsing into the short format mindset, including the captain & some of his key men. One thing is certain. Neither team is keen in throwing in the towel. Any comment to that effect will be misplaced. The morning session will give an indication about the adaptive capabilities of the two leaders and their troops. Waiting eagerly. Hoping to see a keen contest.”

9.00 am Can ya feel it in the air? Crisp and inviting and, lemme spell this out for ya, o-v-e-r-c-a-s-t. It’s a new day, it’s a Sunday and its shaping up to be like a morning that should test batsmen and excite bowlers. So long as South Africa’s don’t look up at the scoreboard and remind themselves of the horrors of yesterday. Not the most thoughtful present to AB de Villiers, the beast from Pretoria – being bowled out for 214 and losing eight to spinners on a pitch that wasn’t all that difficult to bat on – but perhaps they can make amends today.

It won’t be easy though. Those heavy clouds ended up being decoration yesterday morning no matter how much Ishant Sharma pleased them by bowling full. It’d be great to see some swing and seam and the batsmen battling it out. And the two in the middle have done well – M Vijay has shown exemplary skill in bowler-friendly conditions before and Shikhar Dhawan would love the opportunity to prove he isn’t a fair-wicket player. Incentives for everyone this morning. And all we needed was a cloudy old Sunday.

 

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