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SA recover after Ishant, Shami blows

Mohammed Shami, on Thursday

Johannesburg: India’s pacers staged a turnaround with a superb exhibition of swing bowling as South Africa suffered a collapse that left the first Test on an even keel, here, on Thursday.

India lost five wickets for just 25 runs to be bundled out for 280 in their first innings, but clawed back to leave the hosts at 213 for six at close in an action-packed second day. The hosts were cruising along comfortably at 130 for one before the Indian pacers wreaked havoc to change the complexion of the game on a Wanderers track, which provided assistance to the quick bowlers.

Ishant Sharma (three for 64) triggered the shocking batting collapse by dismissing Hashim Amla (36) and Jaques Kallis off consecutive deliveries before Zaheer Khan got rid of captain Graeme Smith (68) — all three wickets falling without a single run being added.

Mohammed Shami then struck by evicting J.P. Duminy and AB de Villers (13) in the same over as India gained the ascendancy in a flash. From a commanding 130 for one, South Africa were suddenly struggling at 146 for six, losing five wickets in a span of 16 runs in an eventful final session.

The hosts, however, recovered some lost ground with Faf du Plessis and Vernon Philander stitching 67 runs for the unbroken seventh-wicket stand as India’s bowlers went wicketless for the last 21.3 overs. Philander and du Plessis were batting on 48 and 17 respectively, at stumps, with South Africa still trailing by 67 runs.

The Indians were unlucky not to have the wicket of du Plessis as he was dropped on 17 by Rohit Sharma, off Shami, at the fag end of the day.Smith and Hashim Amla started proceedings after tea at 118/1, looking to pile on the Indians’ agony and stretch their 81-run partnership for the second wicket. They could add only 12 runs though, before the drama began and wickets started falling in a heap.

Amla was the first to go. In the 37th over of South Africa’s innings, he had cut Ishant over slips and it seemed like there might be some slow reverse swing available for the medium-pacers.