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South Africa in the driver’s seat on Day 2 of Johannesburg Test

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Truth be told, it’s not too challenging to understand who ruled Day 2 of Johannesburg Test between South Africa and Australia. When you put a staggering 488 runs on the board and reduce the opposition to a precarious 110-6, you know you are in the driver’s seat.
And that is precisely where South Africa was at the conclusion of Day 2 of Johannesburg Test. As Australia seem to be plummeting in despair with the Proteas coming in hard at them, we might be looking at a premature end to this deciding contest, maybe inside 5 days.

Session 1: De Kock and Bavuma pile on the runs

Resuming Day 2 of Johannesburg Test- a contest where Australia are playing for pride and South Africa for glory- de Kock and Bevuma began offering the meat of the bat to Australia’s new ball bowlers: Chad Sayers and Pat Cummins. Despite Cummins eventually finished his first inning spell with a fifer, the second of his career, again versus South Africa, the bowling side had to contend with disappointments.
The ball didn’t possess enough carry for the trio of Aussie seamers- Hazlewood, Cummins, and Sayers- the former going wicketless, not a usual sight for the man tipped to be the next McGrath. Meanwhile, after sharing an 85-run stand with Bavuma for the seventh wicket, de Kock’s long vigil ended when the leftie, attempting a cross-batted heave against Lyon, saw the ball land safely into the hands of mid-on.
Bavuma, on the other end, was an obdurate force in motion. He displayed a grandeur in concentration and took precise risks while attacking, coming in hard at Cummins and looking unfazed against Lyon.
South Africa entered Lunch looking comfortable at 400-7 with Keshav Maharaj seeming resolute in allowing Bavuma to take on the Aussie attack.

Session 2: Maharaj scores, Bavuma left stranded just short of hundred

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It’s not a pleasant sight to find a newcomer albeit an absorbing talent, fighting hard to be among runs, eventually left stranded just when a three-figure score is approaching. Despite Maharaj- fluent in those gorgeous back-foot square cuts- contributing a valuable, stroke-full 51-ball 45, he wasn’t able to last long enough for the incredibly talented Bavuma to reach his second hundred. Bavuma, a figure of immense concentration, and someone backed by Amla for his resoluteness ended with a mighty assertive 194 ball effort. It yielded 95 handy runs and enabled South Africa to frustrate Aussie bowlers, all of whom except Cummins proving handy in the end.
The ninth wicket partnership between the right-handers also led to a useful fifty run stand and when Cummins removed the final 2, it seemed Australia had a mountain to climb.

Session 3: Australia produce peril nightmare 

Hollow and eventually lackluster, Australia didn’t seem a side that was ready to mount a challenge to South Africa’s imposing first inning total. Especially the way their new opening batting duo of Renshaw and Burns went about their innings. Causing immediate problems for Aussies on Day 2 of Johannesburg Test were the usual suspects: Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada. The duo was dynamic, dismissive and assertive, but minus shenanigans and only thanks to their red-ball efforts.
From 10-1 to 2-34 with both openers back in the pavilion, Australian hopes hinged on Usman Khwaja, their only experienced batsman in key absences of Smith and Warner and, Marsh brothers. But eventually, upon the end of the day’s play, only Khwaja could manage to produce an effort, even though dainty in respite, it offered in front of South Africa’s colossal score.
When Khwaja was tricked by an angled delivery by Philander that he needlessly touched going well down the legs, Australia lost its fourth wicket at 90 and in turn, any realistic chance of producing a sizeable batting effort. Shaun Marsh, looking unsettled and fidgety against Rabada and Maharaj handed some catching practice to De Villiers in slips. His contribution no more than 16 as brother Mitch Marsh failed to add a run and accumulated a duck, playing on an ordinary Philander delivery that he would’ve left on most other days.
This eventually meant that in absence of any valuable partnerships save the 52-run stand between Marsh and Khwaja, Aussies failed to put a strong fight.
With their backs against the wall and perhaps staring at the threat of a follow-on, Australia ended the Day 2 of Johannesburg Test on six down for 110. It is anybody’s guess who is slated to dominate proceedings on Day 3 unless Australia produces a miracle.

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