Mohammed Shami’s length delivery to Temba Bavuma shaped away a bit. Bavuma hung his bat and the outside edge flew to Virat Kohli’s left at second slip. The reaction time, expectedly, was short and the India captain had to dive full-length. He grabbed it with both hands.
The catch took Kohli to a milestone, his 100th in Test cricket. The elite club of six now, where Rahul Dravid towers over the rest with 209 catches from 163 Tests, has Kohli as its newest member. Other luminaries include Sunil Gavaskar, Mohammed Azharuddin, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman. Ajinkya Rahane at the moment has 99 catches from 82 Tests.
As regards the ongoing game, the personal milestone apart, Kohli’s catch provided his team with a moment of inspiration, something they had been searching for.
The second Test at Wanderers showed how the Indian players’ had thrown in the towel when Dean Elgar and company were pulling off a victory chase. Without Kohli, out injured, nobody tried to take the aggression to the South African captain.
On Wednesday in Cape Town, Keegan Petersen and Bavuma had nicely settled in, taking the Proteas towards India’s first innings total of 223. Forty-seven runs were added for the fifth wicket. The second new ball was still 25 overs away and India had already offered a reprieve to Bavuma, a dropped catch by Cheteshwar Pujara at first slip off Shardul Thakur.
Kohli pulling off a blinder gave the team a massive lift. The bowlers once again had a spring in their steps and South Africa’s lower middle-order surrendered to sustained aggression. And not only the catch; Kohli’s fine captaincy, too, played a part in India regaining the initiative.
Bringing back Shami with the wind about 40 minutes before the tea break did the trick. Not many minutes ago the bowler had finished his previous spell. It was a pretty hot day and the pacers already had a lot of miles in their legs. But the temptation of going full-tilt before a break gave Shami the required impetus. Two wickets inside three deliveries opened the game for India and eventually, they secured a 13-run first-innings lead. All the while, the skipper kept his bowlers charged up, egging the reserve players to magnify the ground noise from the dug-out as well. When on a roll, Kohli loves to play with the crowd. In a closed-doors game, he turned to his teammates.
Kohli’s captaincy had been impactful in the Tests series in England last summer. His leadership skills yet again came to the fore at Newlands today.
The Elite Club:-
|Rahul Dravid||209 catches||163 Tests|
|VVS Laxman||135 catches||134 Tests|
|Sachin Tendulkar||115 catches||200 Tests|
|Sunil Gavaskar||108 catches||125 Tests|
|Mohammad Azharuddin||105 catches||99 Tests|
|Virat Kohli||100 catches||99th Test|
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