After a rearguard fightback by Jalaj Saxena and Shardul Thakur with the bat, the India 'A' bowlers put the host in command by reducing the visitor to 125 for five at stumps on the second day of the unofficial Test match at the Sports Hub on Tuesday. The 100-run eigth wicket stand between Jalaj Saxena (61 not out) and Shardul Thakur (34) gave India 'A' a handy lead of 139 runs after its first innings ended at 303.
In the second innings, the South Africans were all at sea on a wicket which started helping the slow bowlers generously.
However, it was again the medium pacers Mohammed Siraj and Thakur who shook South Africa early by dismissing openers Pieter Malan (4) and Aiden Markram (4) cheaply. But Zubayr Hamza (44) played with freedom and showed the technique to survive on the pitch. Ricky Bhui pulled off a brilliant reflex catch in the slips off Gowtham to end Hamza's stay. And it was left to Heinrich Klaassen (35 batting), who was dropped on 32, and Wiaan Mulder (12 batting) to survive an anxious final hour to push the match into the third day.
In the morning, South Africa 'A' bowlers bounced back to reduce India 'A' to 199 for seven. However, Saxena (61 not out ) and Thakur (34) joined forces to thwart the South Africans.
Ankeet Bawane fell early to Marco Jansen but both Shubman Gill and K.S. Bharat played freely to add 44 runs for the fourth wicket. But Dane Piedt produced the best ball of the India 'A' innings to clean up Gill (90) when the batsmen looked set for a century. The loopy off-break beat Gill in the flight and ball cannoned on to the stumps through the gap between bat and pad as the batsmen lunged forward.
Then fast bowlers Lungi Ngidi and Lutho Sipamla in a sustained spell of aggression broke the back of Indian middle order.
Sipamla had the well settled Bharat (33) edging a catch to Hamza in the slips and then yorked Gowtham for a duck. Ngidi kept up the pressure and had Shivam Dube (8) caught down the legside by keeper Klaasen. Jalaj, who opened his account after 40 balls, changed gears when the tired South African bowlers offered him loose deliveries.
However, Ngidi trapped Shardul in front and Piedt with a double strike hustled the end.
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