Didn't expect so much assistance to Ashwin from pitch: Markram

Hardik Pandya & Virat Kohli

The second Test between South Africa and India will begin at Super Sport Park in Centurion today.

Jittery India aim to stay afloat against daunting South Africa. Ashwin then had de Kock caught behind for a golden duck to pull things back late in the day.

India's reputation as world's best Test team took a big hit as the South Africa thrashed the visitors by what could be called a big if not massive 72-run margin in a chase of 208 to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. The way Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram and Hashim Amla failed in both the innings put vast pressure on the middle order which was already short of one batsman.

South Africa were 78 for no wicket at lunch after winning the toss and batting on an easy-paced pitch.

Philander's run out in the next over came as he set off for a run as the ball looped into the air and dropped between three India fielders.

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However, two run-outs and a wicket by Ashwin within 13 balls saw South Africa slump from 246/3 to 251/6 as India sought to wrest control of the match. It's the second time in a short career, but I'm just going to keep saying it's part of the game and try to be positive. If it's a low-scoring game, we'd want to get 20 or 30 or even 50 more.

Du Plessis held his team together until stumps and was 24 not out.

Du Plessis finished on 25 off 77 balls, which included three boundaries, while Maharaj remained undefeated on 10 off 23 deliveries, which included two boundaries.

"They made the mistake of trying to bowl him out of the attack, but it would be wonderful for India if he comes through as a quality Test all-rounder because that's something they desperately need for sure", said Cullinan, who admitted Dale Steyn's absence will hurt skipper Faf du Plessis. He bowled 31 overs. I'm not saying that Ajinkya can not or will not start in this game. "In the last two series, he (Sharma) was acting very stupidly, reacting to the situations badly, and I think every time he comes out with something different and that is not making him very consistent", the 55-year-old mentioned. He struck the ball with authority, particularly off the back foot, before he tried to guide a ball from Ashwin towards third man and was caught behind by Parthiv Patel. The hosts were going strong with Amla (82) anchoring the Proteas innings after Markram, playing on his home ground, missed out on a well-deserved century by a whisker. "It was a nothing shot and I've still not got over it just yet". Ashwin said the pitch turned only because of the dampness in the morning, which means the fast bowlers might still be the ones to win or lose the Test. Pandya and Ashwin were batting at number seven and eight respectively, which suggests India have enough depth in their batting order -- if their top-order players can get themselves through the new ball.

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