News Karnataka
Tuesday, March 21 2023

Rahul, Kohli take India to safety at tea despite Ngidi’s double strikes

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Centurion: KL Rahul and Virat Kohli kept India ticking despite double strikes by Lungi Ngidi as the tourists reached 157/2 at tea on day one of the Boxing Day Test at SuperSport Park. South Africa improved on their performance in the wicketless first session but Rahul and Mayank Agarwal crossed a century stand for the opening wicket while reaching their respective half-centuries. With Rahul and Kohli still at the crease, India are in a very good position in the match.

The second session began with Agarwal reaching his half-century with a creamy drive through long-off off Marco Jansen. Jansen would come under further attack from Rahul, clipping through mid-wicket and outer edge flying through slip cordon as the Karnataka duo brought up the century of opening partnership, marking it the third hundred-plus opening stand for India in South Africa.

Rahul gained pace as he drove Wiaan Mulder twice through sweeper cover while Mayank tucked a short ball from Ngidi through fine leg. But on the next ball, Ngidi trapped Agarwal lbw with a delivery that came in from the back of a length and hit the pads after going past the inner edge. South Africa took the review and got to change the decision as ball-tracking showed hitting the top of leg-stump, ending India’s opening stand at 117.

One brought two for Ngidi as he bowled a fiery in-swinger which Cheteshwar Pujara inner-edged to his thigh and it lobbed to Keegan Petersen, running in from backward short leg. It was also the second time Pujara bagged a golden duck in his Test career. Coincidentally, both came at Centurion and had Ngidi involved (in 2018, he affected the run-out of Pujara).

Rahul brought up his 13th Test fifty with a nicely timed cover drive off Ngidi. Virat Kohli was off the mark by leaning into the cover drive off Jansen and followed it up with a clip through mid-on off left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj, looking in good touch. Rahul and Kohli kept the scoreboard ticking to ensure In’ia didn’t lose a wicket till tea despite Mulder and Maharaj getting some assistance from the pitch.

Earlier, Rahul and Mayank Agarwal justified captain Kohli’s decision to bat first with a careful yet solid opening stand as India reached 83/0 in 28 overs at lunch.

Brief scores: India 157/2 in 57 overs (KL Rahul 68 not out, Mayank Agarwal 60, Lungi Ngidi 2/35) against South Africa.

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