Virat Kohli's highest individual score in Tests has put India on top against South Africa in the Pune Test. (Photo Credit: PTI)
There is a feeling of inevitability nowadays that when Virat Kohli walks out to bat, he is bound to create plenty of records. Day 2 at the MCA stadium in Pune proved to be no different. Kohli got his eye in, had a superb duel with Kagiso Rabada, ensured the remaining South African bowlers were taken to the cleaners. Even the Proteas obliged, taking his catch off a no-ball. At the end of the carnage, Kohli stood like the apex predator who had wiped out 11 South Africans in Pune. Kohli blasted 254, his highest individual score. This was seventh double ton, most by an Indian. This was his 10th 150+ score and ninth as captain, breaking Sir Don Bradman's record. Amidst this, he went past 7000 runs in Tests and 1000 in Tests against South Africa.
The sheer dominance of Kohli had virtually sealed the deal for South Africa. If that was not enough, Umesh Yadav removed Aiden Markram and Dean Elgar. Mohammed Shami struck with his first ball by getting rid of Temba Bavuma. If South Africa thought they could crawl to safety, Kohli's aggression did not even allow them as they face an uphill task to stay alive after being reduced to 36/3 in pursuit of India's massive 601/5 declared.
For South Africa's bowlers, the third straight declaration by India sums up their fall. From being the best travelling side at the start of the millennium, they are now struggling to bowl sides out. Ajinkya Rahane and Kohli started the day cautiously as the Proteas looked to play on their patience. However, Kohli expertly left anything that was slightly wide outside off, which used to be his Achillees Heel. The Indian captain left well, had his share of fortune as an outside edge of Vernon Philander evaded Quinton de Kock.
Kohli played straight and Rahane complimented him well. Rahane notched up his 20th fifty as he grew in confidence with a couple of fours off Anrich Nortje and Rabada. However, it was Maharaj who had the laast laugh as he turned a delivery just enough to graze the outside edge. The 178-run stand had laid the base for India and in stepped Ravindra Jadeja.
In the 2017 season, Jadeja had displayed a great tenacity to increase the scoring rate when it mattered. However, in Pune, he got his eye in while Kohli ticked off milestone after milestone. He got his century with a straight drive off Philander and with two fortunate edges off Maharaj, he had notched up his 150. In the third session, both batsmen went for the kill as South Africa's body language looked deflated.
Jadeja was severe on Senuran Muthusamy and Maharaj while Kohli notched up his seventh double ton. On 208, he edged Muthusamy to Faf du Plessis but replays showed he had overstepped. Kohli and Jadeja went for the kill, with Kohli smashing two sixes off Maharaj. Jadeja stepped up a gear and raced to 91 before holing out to extra cover and the innings was declared.
Umesh Yadav bowled with pace and accuracy to trap Aiden Markram plumb in front in the second over while Dean Elgar's exasgerated leaves proved to be his undoing as the bottom edge rolled back off his boot to the stumps. Temba Bavuma was undone by Shami's pacy delivery and he was given out after a review. He could have had Nortje caught but the ball came off the forearm and the review went in South Africa's favour.
South Africa need plenty of assistance from the weather to stay alive in the match. The forecast is for showers on day three and four but one feels the weather gods might not smile on South Africa's side.