India has followed up an extraordinary South African batting collapse with an unprecedented debacle of its own, losing six wickets for no runs during the Second Test at Newlands.
A bonkers 23 wickets fell on the first day, which ended with South African batting consultant Ashwell Prince declaring “there was something wrong”.
South Africa were shot out for 55 before lunch and were struggling at 62 for three at stumps, still 36 behind after India were bowled out for 153.
Mohammed Siraj took a career-best 6/15, bowling unchanged for nine overs as South Africa’s decision to bat first backfired spectacularly.
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It was South Africa’s lowest total since they were bowled out for 36 and 45 against Australia in Melbourne in 1931/32.
India were doing reasonably well in response, at 4/153, before an extraordinary collapse unfolded, with the team losing its last six wickets for no runs at all.
KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Virat Kohli, Mohammed Siraj and Prasidh Krishna were the victims, with Lungi Ngidi and Kagiso Rabada the bowlers.
In all, India lost six wickets in 11 balls.
Prince gave credit to Indian opening bowlers Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah but said conditions were greatly in favour of the bowlers.
“I’ve never seen the pitch that quick on day one,” said Prince, who played 11 of his 66 Test matches, as well as most of his domestic career, at Newlands and is currently coach of Western Province, based at the ground.
“As a batsman you don’t mind pace in the wicket if the bounce is consistent but the bounce was a little bit inconsistent.
“You expect a bit of seam movement on day one but seam movement with inconsistent bounce is a different situation.
“Sometimes it happens that a great bowling line-up bowls out a team cheaply but if both batting line-ups can’t bat there’s something wrong.” Prince said the conditions had taken South Africa by surprise, prompting them to bat in bright sunshine.
“There was a bit of grass on the pitch but the tendency at Newlands is for it to take spin later on so it made sense to bat. I don’t think anyone could have foreseen how the pitch would play.”
Earlier the stand-in South African captain, Dean Elgar, playing in his last Test, stressed the need for his team to start well as they defended a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.
But it was India who controlled the morning’s play on a pitch which offered bounce and seam movement.
Siraj exploited the conditions superbly, with none of the batsmen looking comfortable against him.
He started South Africa’s collapse when he had Aiden Markram caught at second slip for two in his second over.
He followed up by bowling Elgar for four in his next over.
Jasprit Bumrah had new cap Tristan Stubbs caught at short leg for three before Siraj took the next four wickets.
Indian captain Rohit Sharma’s decision to keep Siraj on was rewarded when the fast bowler took the wickets of David Bedingham (12) and Marco Jansen (0) in his eighth over.
Top-scorer Kyle Verreynne (15) was Siraj’s sixth victim in his ninth over.
The stunning collapse comes days after South Africa unveiled a squad for next month’s Test series against the Kiwis that has been described as a C-grade team.
Days after punishing powerhouse India by an innings in a home Test match, South Africa named a debutant captain in Neil Brand among seven uncapped players for the two-Test series.
The national team was ravaged by a ruling from Cricket South Africa which determined no players contracted to SA20 franchises were eligible for selection. Thus from the side which just beat India, only Keegan Petersen and David Bedingham remain.
It is a remarkable indication of South Africa’s priorities given they currently lead the 2023-25 World Test Championship standings (with one win from one Test) and prompted Waugh to unload on Instagram.
To many the squad has signalled the imminent death of Test cricket, with Steve Waugh and Michael Clarke among those to criticise South Africa’s team selection.
— with AFP
Originally published as South Africa rolled for 55, then India loses six wickets for no runs in extraordinary Test match