South Africa 78-0, Markram on 51 in 2nd test against India

CENTURION, South Africa (AP) South Africa’s openers settled in on a surprisingly hospitable pitch at Centurion and batted through the first session to go to lunch on 78-0 on Day 1 of the second test against India on Saturday.

Aiden Markram was 51 not out, with Dean Elgar undefeated on 26, as they made the most of good batting conditions at SuperSport Park.

The pair provided a solid start after South Africa won the toss and opted to bat first. A typically fast, bouncy Centurion pitch had been predicted but the surface appeared nothing like that after 27 overs on the opening morning.

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis said it was an easy call to bat first.

Playing on his home ground, Markram pounced on anything loose by the Indian seamers to hit nine fours and move to a second half-century in his fifth test. He’s also made two hundreds.

There was one positive from the session for top-ranked India, which trails 1-0 in the three-match series and must win at SuperSport Park to have a chance at a first series victory in South Africa. That was the turn produced by offspinner Ravichandran Ashwin in his four overs.

Ashwin troubled the left-handed Elgar in particular and had a close call for caught behind turned down shortly before lunch. India captain Virat Kohli reviewed the not out decision, apparently certain that it was the breakthrough. The DRS showed Elgar clipped his front pad with his bat but there was no edge.

Trailing its closest challenger in the test rankings after losing in Cape Town, India made three changes to its lineup for Centurion. Those changes included surprisingly dropping seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who was one of India’s best players in the first test. India brought in Ishant Sharma for Kumar and also opening batsman KL Rahul for Shikhar Dhawan, and Parthiv Patel for injured wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha.

South Africa gave a test debut to fast bowler Lungi Ngidi, who replaced injured quick Dale Steyn.