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Kohli, Vijay steady India's reply in second test versus South Africa

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Kohli, Vijay steady India's reply in second test versus South Africa

CENTURION, South Africa - Just as his opposite number did, India captain Virat Kohli led his team's fightback with an unbeaten 39 as the tourists were 80-2 at tea on Day 2 of the second test in South Africa on Sunday.

"India will have to bottle down and fight hard in the batting".

The skipper was positive from the very beginning of his knock and it quickly became clear that if South Africa were going to take proper control of this match, they would have to get Kohli out as soon as possible.

That South Africa did not climb into India thereon was nearly entirely down to Kohli.

"They could have played Ishant in place of any other bowler".

At Newlands, home to South Africa's most balanced pitch and its most frequent test venue with 55 games, bowlers have claimed 10 a round 10 times.

"Watching Virat Kohli excluding Shikhar Dhawan for just one Test failure, and Bhuvneshwar for no reason at all, Kohli should drop himself in the third Test at Johannesburg, if he fails to perform in Centurion", Virender Sehwag was quoted as saying by India TV.

First, as tea approached, he yelled out to Vijay, in chaste and not-entirely-repeatable Hindi, that South Africa would be extremely anxious if their partnership were to extend deep into the evening.

Then, after tea, he grew a little loose against the left-arm spin of Keshav Maharaj.

By the final session, South Africa were happy to keep giving Kohli the single and trying to target the other batsmen.

Kohli and Murali Vijay steadied the innings with a 79-run partnership, during which Kohli brought up his half-century.

"It could have so easily been a game where they could have run away with it after the second session".

Rahane remained on the sidelines with Kohli's hope that project Rohit Sharma would churn out well this time.

Rabada kept going, eventually sending down two more overs. He fended off the rising delivery outside the off stump with controlled cut and push. Both produced big lbw shouts. The South African skipper was clean bowled by Ishant as the pacer beautifully bowled the seam delivery which came in and went past Du Plessis's defence to knock the middle stump off the ground.

There was no real pressure release when Rabada's spell ended. But Parthiv too flattered to deceive as Lungi Ngidi picked his first Test wicket.

It wasn't Ngidi's first major intervention of the day.

In their reply, India got off to a bad start as both KL Rahul and Cheteshwar Pujara departed early.

India would have been desperate to make further inroads at that stage to get back into the contest, but with Du Plessis and Amla ticking along comfortably, it didn't look likely.

India needed an innings - or three - of steel after allowing South Africa to progress from 269/6 to 335, with Faf du Plessis adding 42 for the eighth wicket and reaching a vital half-century.

The hosts were nevertheless unable to take full advantage, Ishant Sharma picking up the wickets of Rabada (11) and key man Faf du Plessis (63) to finish with 3-46. "Ashwin had never bowled so many overs €" 31 to be precise €" on the opening day of a Test outside the sub-continent and the fact that he bagged 50 percent of the six wickets which fell was proof of his value to the team on this track.

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