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'Can see the entire XI changing for the next Test': South Africa skittled for 96-year low, India lose 6-0 on day of disaster

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3rd January, 2024
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South Africa closed an extraordinary see-saw first day of the second and final Test against India at Newlands on 3-62 in their second innings, trailing the tourists by 36 runs after 23 wickets and several records fell.

Aiden Markram (36no) and David Bedingham (7no) will hope to bat on and set India a challenging target on the second day, with the hosts’ captain Dean Elgar believing they can still win if they can set India a target of 100 or more after what he called “a really crazy day of Test cricket”.

Seamer Mohammed Siraj took a career-best 6-15 on Wednesday as the visitors skittled their hosts for 55 in the first innings after Elgar elected to bat on a wicket offering plenty of assistance to the bowlers.

The score is the Proteas’ lowest in a Test since 1932, while not since 1889 have they mustered a lower total after winning the toss and batting first.

The horror show comes after Cricket South Africa controversially named a second- or even third-string side to tour New Zealand for two Tests later this year, with only players without a contract in their local SAT20 competition permitted to travel.

After winning the toss, Elgar, filling as captain in his final Test for the injured Temba Bavuma, described the pitch as an “interesting wicket with a few snakes in it”.

India’s seamers were able to get movement off the wicket, but there was also variable bounce at a venue where there have been many low scores.

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New Zealand were bowled out for 45 in 2013 and Australia for 47 in 2011.

South Africa’s previous lowest innings total against India in Tests was 79 at Nagpur in 2015. At home it was 130 at the same Newlands venue in 2018.

India were going well at 4-153 in reply before they lost six wickets without scoring a run – the first time that has happened in Tests. 

The list of unwanted milestones did not stop there for the visitors as they had six batters dismissed for ducks – which equalled the previous Test record.

The first two innings lasted 349 balls, the second fewest in 147 years of Test cricket. 

The only shorter instance was 287 deliveries between Australia and England in 1902.

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South Africa lost Elgar twice in the day before his retirement, which he announced ahead of the series. He scored four and 12.

Mukesh Kumar (2-25) grabbed Elgar’s wicket in the second innings, and that of Tony de Zorzi (2 & 1), while Jasprit Bumrah removed debutant Tristan Stubbs (3 & 1) as the home side were left teetering at the close.

Yet Elgar feels he could still bow out on a winning note. “I would take 100 (to win) all day,” Elgar told reporters. “When our bowlers click they can rip through any batting line-up and on this wicket that is possible.

“I didn’t know the wicket would play in that way, though. With the naked eye it did not look so bad. 

“I don’t know what to make of this pitch.”

South Africa were pegged back in their first innings by a superb nine-over spell from Siraj, who bowled an impeccable line and length and made full use of the movement off the surface.

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The home batters were at times the architects of their own downfall as they made poor decisions around shot selection, especially the lower order, who tried to hit their way out of trouble but only fell deeper into it.

India made a fast start in reply, led by captain Rohit Sharma (39) and Shubman Gill (36), before Virat Kohli struck a fluent 46.

But just as they looked to be taking the game away from their hosts, seamer Lungi Ngidi (3-30) took three wickets in an over as he found extra bounce off the wicket.

Panic set in for the visitors in a dramatic collapse during which they lost six wickets in the space of 11 deliveries, including the needless run out of Siraj.

Kagiso Rabada (3-38) and Nandre Burger (3-42) were also among the wickets for the home side.

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South Africa won the first Test in Pretoria by an innings and 32 runs.

with AAP

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