India have had their fair share of luck on Day 1 of the third Test in Johannesburg. South Africa, who lead the series 2-0 and are looking to do a whitewash on India, were uncharacteristically sloppy on the field. The chief beneficiary of this was Indian captain Virat Kohli who was dropped twice in his innings.
But the first instance of India getting lucky was that of Cheteshwar Pujara. It was the 20th over of the day and Lungi Ngidi was the delivery man. The ball missed the inside edge and hit both pads of the batsman. South Africa only made a half appeal and let the matter go once the umpire shook his head. But hawkeye showed that the ball was indeed hitting the stumps and so, had the Proteas gone for a review, Pujara would have been sent back. He had faced 48 balls back then for no runs. He went on to complete 50 deliveries without scoring and faced a total 179 balls in his innings, ringing out exactly 50 runs.
Virat Kohli was saved the first time when Vernon Philander dropped him off Kagiso Rabada. Kohli pulled at a bouncer outside off stump. It ballooned up in the air to Philander at wide mid-off somehow dropped it.
The next came when Morne Morkel was bowling the 33rd over of the day. The ball was as wide as it gets outside off and Kohli actually reached for it. It went off the bottom edge of the bat and second slip AB De Villiers seemed to have gone for the catch a tad bit early. The ball ended up scraping the bottom of his fingers and India got two runs out of it. It was a rather surprising sequence of events, more so because of it was De Villiers, normally a safe pair of hands, who was the culprit. As Michael Holding said in the commentary box, it was a bad ball, a bad shot and poor fielding. Kohli was on 32 at the time.
The next piece of luck for the Indian captain also came off Morkel. This time it was a fantastic ball that took the inside edge and just about missed the stumps before running off to the boundary. By the time Kohli was dismissed, he had made 54 off 106 balls.
Ajinkya Rahane nicked Philander and was caught behind when he was on 3. But the umpire went upstairs and, as it turned out, Philander had overstepped marginally. The Indian vice-captain, though, was not able to capitalise on his luck and was dismissed by Morkel himself for an LBW. Mohammed Shami was also a beneficiary that never used his second lease of life. Theunis de Bruyn, who was standing in for AB De Villiers, was the fielder but this was a difficult one to pocket. He ran forward from mid-on and dived but the ball simply bounced out of his fingers. Finally Bhuvneshwar Kumar played a few lose shots that landed in no-man’s land.
Despite all this, India only managed to make 187 runs. The pitch is a pacer’s paradise and not an easy one to bat at all. Despite that, they would feel they are at least 50 runs below par considering the number of times South Africa let them outlast their shelf life.