Calcutta/Durban: If the opening day belonged to India, the second day of the second and final Test certainly saw South Africa gain the upper hand. From bowling out India for 334, a score which was much less than what was anticipated, to staying unscathed at 82 without loss when stumps were drawn, South Africa did almost everything right on Friday.
While Dale Steyn was undoubtedly the home hero taking six wickets, India’s overnight stars, Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara, failed to convert their hard work into three-figure marks.
Vijay, resuming on 91, could add just six more and was disappointingly out for 97. But one would be wrong to think that the opener was very upset on missing out on a well-deserved century.
“Home or overseas, scoring runs makes me happy… I am happy with the way I batted the whole day on Thursday. Of course, it is a little disappointing that I couldn’t get a hundred, but scoring runs against the No.1 side in the world is self-assuring. With the kind of attack that they have — and this is not a flat pitch, it is a two-paced slow wicket — it is difficult to score runs. I thought I batted well,” he said.
Asked how he prepared for the South Africa tour, Vijay said: “I have been watching videos… The one thing that got me out was playing away from the body… Especially in this part of the world that shot, the cover drive, is not on. I just wanted to play straight as much as possible,” Vijay revealed.
Vijay admitted that India could have scored a bigger total. “Yes, we are disappointed about giving away the advantage. MS (Dhoni) and Ajinkya (Rahane) had a little stint in the middle. It was not easy for the new batsmen coming in, because Dale (Steyn) was reversing the ball well. We should have taken the responsibility and gone through that session.”
On the pitch and Steyn, who took six for 100, Vijay said: “When play started, I felt there was some kind of dew on the pitch or maybe moisture… The ball was bouncing a little more than yesterday (Thursday). And the way Steyn bowled, the way he gave it all, that is why he’s a top bowler. Pujara told me that Steyn was getting reverse swing. So we wanted to play a bit carefully, but unfortunately we couldn’t do it.”
Vijay also said that the Indians are waiting for the reverse swing. “Yes, we gave away those 15-20 extra runs in the final session, but we were waiting for some reverse swing to happen. Let us see how Saturday goes,” he said.
Pujara, who was caught by wicketkeeper AB de Villiers off Steyn, blamed it on playing the wrong shot. “I was really batting well on Thursday and wanted to score some more runs today (Friday) as well. But unfortunately, I played a very wrong shot to get out. Overall, however, I am pretty happy with the way I batted,” Pujara said.
“On the personal front, I am pretty happy with the way things have gone for me on this tour. I was unfortunate to get run out in the first innings of the first Test. Apart from that, I am happy with my batting in Johannesburg and in the first innings here,” he said.
According to Pujara, the pitch behaved a little differently on the second day. “The pitch was a bit different today (Friday)… There was more carry and there was a little bit more for the fast bowlers. I think after it rained on Thursday night, there was a little bit of moisture on the wicket. The ball was also skidding through.”
Like Vijay, Pujara, too, said that India could have scored more. “We could have easily got 400, given the situation we were in at stumps on Thursday. But we are happy with the score that we have put up. The ball has started to turn a bit, and once it starts getting a bit of reverse swing, the fast bowlers will come into the picture.”
Pujara added: “In the first innings, we didn’t get much of reverse swing with the semi-new ball. But the wicket is changing and we are expecting that the ball will reverse when we come in to bowl on Saturday.”
As a batsman, he was happy with his team’s performance. “I am very happy with our overall performance here. There was a lot of talk before the start of the series, about our credibility to perform well overseas. But we are very happy with the kind of performance that we all have put up so far,” he said.