Bumrah, Bhuvaneshwar bring the contest on an even keel.

Bumrah, Bhuvaneshwar bring the contest on an even keel.

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Johnson Cherian.
There were times when batting appeared a game of Russian Roulette on this seam trap at the Wanderers.
If this delivery didn’t get you, the next one could. Any of them could have your name written on it.
Once again, the pacemen shot from the hip while the batsmen had to dodge the bullets on the second day of the third Test.
The game, though, was intriguingly balanced after day two with India on 49, an overall lead of 42 after South Africa was dismissed for 194 in its first innings.
M. Vijay (13 batting) and K.L. Rahul (16 batting) coped well with the demanding conditions.
There was a switch in the batting order too with the left-handed Parthiv Patel surfacing at the top with Vijay.
Parthiv sparkled briefly as well gliding and whipping boundaries before Vernon Philander nailed the southpaw on the flick, taken bat-pad at gully.
Innovative methods
For South Africa, Hashim Alma (61), the backbone of the innings, adopted innovative methods.
He shuffled across to off in an elaborate and a rather extensive fashion, almost going towards the sixth stump to negate the away movement and minimise the chances of the ball finding the outside edge. Here, Amla was virtually blocking the sphere leaving him.
This method can put the batsman at the risk of a leg-before verdict but here Amla knew the natural bounce in the pitch would take the ball over the stumps.
Amla came close be being dismissed leg-before twice but survived because of umpire’s call. On both occasions, the sphere was kissing the top of the stumps.
And the typically wristy Amla was picking deliveries from the off-stump and whipping them past vacant areas on the leg-side.
It was clever, calculated batting with Amla comprehending the situation and finding a way to overcome it.
Versatile bowler
For India, Bhuvneshwar bowled beautifully. He is a versatile bowler these days with pace, seam movement and swing. And his control makes him devastating on surfaces lending him assistance.
It’s his wrist position, the manner he holds it firm and upright, that enables Bhuvneshwar to seam it both ways with just a subtle change in release position.
The way Bhuvneshwar shifted his line to the southpaws was admirable. Opener Dean Elgar succumbed to a good one leaving him, with ’keeper Parthiv Patel plucking a sharp catch, diving to his left.
And the big inswinger that started from the fifth stump to beat and castle A.B. de Villiers was a gem. A blitzkrieg from de Villiers could have taken the match away from India.
Outstanding bowling
Bumrah scalped five but was a mixed bag, veering between the brilliant and the ordinary. The delivery that seamed in sharply and bowled Faf du Plessis, who offered no shot, was an outstanding piece of bowling.
With his different action, Bumrah can also create unusual angles with deliveries such as the one that swerved into the left-handed Quinton de Kock, cramped him for room, and flicked the inside edge.
And when Parthiv flew down the leg-side to pouch last-man Lungi Ngidi, Bumrah celebrated his first five-wicket haul in Tests.
Much like Bhuvneshwar for India, South Africa was powered towards the end by a 35 by Philander who pulled, slashed and drove; these were priceless runs for the hosts.
In the morning, night-watchman Kagiso Rabada, a competitor with the willow, frustrated the Indians by batting nearly the entire first session.
Between periods of defence, he jumped out to Bhuvneshwar and creamed him over covers.
Ishant, finally, angled one across the left-hander with extra bounce and an alert Ajinkya Rahane snapped up the edge in the cordon.
The 64-run third-wicket association between Amla and Rabada formed a sizeable chunk of the South African total.
Partnerships are worth their weight in gold on this pitch.

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