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Shardul Thakur Five-For Keeps India Marching, but South Africa Inch Closer to Lead

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Shardul Thakur picked up his maiden five-wicket haul in Test cricket but South Africa was only 11 behind India’s first-innings total when tea was taken on day two of the second Test in Johannesburg. They still have three wickets in hand. Temba Bavuma and Kyle Verreynne revived South Africa after Thakur’s three-wicket burst before lunch had left them wobbling at 102 for 4. The pair added 60 for the fifth wicket and took the side to 162 before Thakur trapped Verreynne lbw with one that came back in sharply. In his next over, Thakur had Bavuma caught down the leg side for 51 to complete his five-for. Bavuma, who reached his half-century off just 59 balls, hit six fours and a six during his knock, the most eye-catching being an on-drive against Jasprit Bumrah. From the other end, Mohammed Shami got Kagiso Rabada mistiming a drive to mid-on. But Marco Jansen and Keshav Maharaj pushed the total to 191 for 7. Earlier, Keegan Petersen’s maiden half-century and his 74-run stand for the second wicket with Dean Elgar had given South Africa the edge. But Thakur got rid of both of them; and in the last over before lunch, he found Rassie van der Dussen’s inside edge, which hit his thigh and lobbed behind the wicket. The batter walked back but replays showed that the ball had bounced just in front of the diving Rishabh Pant. In the morning, Petersen and Elgar had kept India at bay despite a probing first hour of bowling. Bumrah and Shami tested the duo: Bumrah with a bit of wobble in the air and Shami with movement off the seam. Both came close to picking up wickets. Bumrah got one to come back into Petersen after a string of away swingers. The batter shouldered arms and, luckily for him, the ball went over the stumps. A few overs later, Elgar edged one off Bumrah and Pant took it low; the on-field umpires referred it upstairs with the soft signal as out. The third umpire, though, concluded that it was a bump ball. In the next over, Shami cut Petersen in half but on this occasion too the ball sailed over the wickets.KL Rahul then turned to Mohammed Siraj. Siraj had left the field after hurting his hamstring in the penultimate over of the first day, but on Tuesday, he was on the field right from the start. He started with a shorter run-up and was down on pace as well. Petersen took advantage of that, hitting two boundaries in his first over of the day. Elgar, meanwhile, was stuck on his overnight score of 11. It took him 32 balls to score his first runs of the morning – at one point, he had faced 47 dots in a row. He broke that sequence with a flicked boundary off R Ashwin. Eventually, it was Thakur who broke the stand when Elgar edged to Pant for 28. Petersen reached his half-century with a boundary off Shami and celebrated it with two more fours in the over, but a rare loose shot outside off against Thakur gave India the chance to make a comeback.

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