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India Currents gave me a voice in days I was very lost. Having my articles selected for publishing was very validating – Shailaja Dixit, Executive Director, Narika, Fremont
India is currently playing a bilateral series in South Africa. They will play 3 test matches and 3 One Day International (ODI) matches in the series. India won the first test by a mammoth 113 runs. Virat Kohli wasn’t fit to play in the second test, so KL Rahul, the stand-in captain was ready to go.
India started off well with an opening partnership of 36 runs from the Karnataka openers KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal. However, the 21-year-old, left-arm quick Marco Jansen produced an edge off Mayank’s bat to dismiss him for 26 runs, continuing team India’s woes against left-arm pace. Cheteshwar Pujara, the new batsman, immediately started blocking. Pujara scored 3 off 33, a very slow inning. He then got a ball outside off just short of a good length that bounced as if the Wanderers pitch was made out of a trampoline. It surprised Pujara, hit the shoulder of the bat, and Temba Bavuma took an easy catch. In came Ajinkya Rahane who quickly followed Pujara back to the pavilion after edging a ball well outside off stump on a Duanne Olivier delivery. So, just like that, from 36/0, India suddenly found themselves at 49/3. Rahul and the new batsman Hanuma Vihari strung together a nice partnership before Vihari was dismissed by a stunner of a catch at short leg by Rassie van der Dussen. Rahul fought for a half-century, but immediately after that played a false shot and got caught. The rest of the team collapsed, but Ashwin played a remarkable inning that took India from 116/5 to 202 with his 46 runs.
In the second inning, the Indian fast bowlers knew how valuable an early wicket would be for their team. The opening bowlers, Shami and Bumrah, bowled with a lot of accuracy and pace, and soon got their reward. Aiden Markram was caught in front of the wicket, on a ball that cut in sharply after pitching. The new pair were able to negate the swing of the ball beautifully. Petersen and Elgar compiled a crucial 74 run partnership until Dean Elgar was undone by the man with a golden arm, Shardul Thakur. In the first test these two sides played in this series, Thakur was very expensive, going for many runs with a high economy. Because of his inconsistency then, KL Rahul only used him after another fast-bowler, Mohammad Siraj seemed to have pulled his hamstring. Shardul did not let him down, also knocking Keegan Petersen over, with a lovely out-swinger that Petersen edged to Mayank Agarwal, who pouched it safely. Petersen was dismissed for 62 runs. In came Rassie van der Dussen, the white-ball specialist. And out he went, dismissed for only 1 run by guess who? Yup, Shardul Thakur, who pouched 3 game-changing wickets for India in only 4.5 overs. From 88/1 to 102/4, Lord Shardul changed the momentum of the game. However, his knack of getting wickets died down, as Temba Bavuma, and the wicket-keeper Kyle Verreynne remained solid. Bavuma scored a 50, but Verreynne was dismissed by a beauty from (guess who) Thakur, who continued his golden run of form in this match. However, by then it was too late, as Bavuma and a few key contributions from the tail gave South Africa a lead of 17 runs. The innings, however, belonged to Thakur, who got 7 scalps in the match, the most by an Indian bowler ever on South African soil.
India was looking for a good opening partnership again, but KL got out quickly, the ball finding the outside-edge of the bat. Mayank was looking really good again, but Olivier bowled a ball that pitched well outside off stump but cut in sharply to hit Mayank’s pad. Now the game was in Pujara and Rahane’s hands, who were likely the most out of form players in world test cricket at that moment. They both had a combined 88 runs in 6 innings, with an average of 14.67 so far in the tour. Immediately, they both looked nervous but survived. Rahane hit some lovely drives through the covers, and Pujara also middled a few through the off-side. Both got their 50’s, and India was looking for them to continue on. Then… both immediately fell. Rahane was caught behind, and Pujara was lbw, both to Kagiso Rabada, the South African pace spearhead. Ashwin and the star of the show, Shardul Thakur were able to land a few big blows. This took India to 266, which gave SA a competitive target of 240 runs.
India once again came fired up but to no avail. Aiden Markram ended his poor run of form with a quickfire 31. India was hunting for another wicket, but both batsmen burrowed down and stayed in. Desperate, Rahul brought in R. Ashwin, trying something new in hopes of getting a wicket.
In his 4th over, Ashwin was able to produce magic. He drew Petersen in and trapped him in front of the stumps. Petersen departed for 28, which gave India a small opening to win the game. Captain Elgar had a huge responsibility to deliver in a crucial game and he left nothing to be desired. Van der Dussen, his partner, looked to stay on one end, and did just that, working very hard for his 40 runs, until Shami delivered for India. The ball was brilliant, as it swung in, and cut away. At this point, SA only needed 65 runs with 7 wickets in hand. The 2 senior players, Elgar and Bavuma were able to guide South Africa home, Elgar finishing with a man-of-the-match performance with 96* runs while remaining unbeaten to give his side a 7 wicket win.
The stage will be set for Cape Town, as both teams will fight valiantly with the series on the line.
Adi Anand is 13-years-old and an 8th grader living in San Jose, California. He is an avid cricketer and sports aficionado.