Second Test: Ashwin's three, lively fielding drive India's fightback

centurion-test-ap India captain Virat Kohli (foreground right) reacts after taking a catch to dismiss South Africa batsman Quinton de Kock for a duck during the first day of the second Test match at Centurion Park in Pretoria | AP

India effected a dramatic turnaround by taking three wickets for five runs in the last hour to reduce South Africa to 269 for six at stumps on the opening day of the second Test. Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin took three crucial wickets as the visitors fought back after the duo of Hashim Amla (82) and Aiden Markram (94) batted resolutely.

At the end of day's play, captain Faf du Plessis was unbeaten on 24 runs (77 balls, 3 fours) while Keshav Maharaj was batting on 10.

On a day when the Indian pacers failed to make much of a dent on an easy-paced wicket, Aswhin (3/90) emerged as the most successful bowler as he dismissed Markram (94), Dean Elgar (31) and Quinton de Kock (0).

The hosts were going strong with Amla (82) anchoring the Proteas innings after Markram, playing on his home ground, missed out on a well-deserved century by a whisker.

Markram's wicket came against the run of play. He asked for DRS review and was a tad unlucky as the edge was doubtful. But there wasn't sufficient evidence to overturn the on-field umpire's decision.

However, two run-outs and a wicket by Ashwin within 13 balls saw South Africa slump from 246/3 to 251/6 as India sought to wrest control of the match.

Post tea, Amla and AB de Villiers (20) took their third-wicket partnership to 51 runs. South Africa crossed 200 in the 64th over, but not before losing de Villiers as he played on off Ishant Sharma (1-32), who got just reward for toiling away.

Amla then put on 47 runs with du Plessis, and in doing so, scored his 36th Test half-century off 99 balls. It looked to be a dominant day for the hosts before a mini-collapse came by.

First, in the 81st over, Amla was run-out against the run of play, getting mixed up with du Plessis as he set off for a single but Hardik Pandya (0-37) found the target on the non-striker's end off his bowling.

Two balls later, Ashwin dismissed Quinton de Kock for a golden duck, caught at slip. Vernon Philander (0) was then run-out on the last ball of the 83rd over as he set off for a run even as du Plessis refused the single from the non-striker's end.

India took the new ball in the 87th over, but South Africa managed to avoid any further damage.

India made three changes to their XI, with K.L. Rahul replacing Shikhar Dhawan and Ishant Sharma coming in for Bhuvneshwar Kumar, which attracted widespread criticism from former players.

Wriddhiman Saha was ruled out due to a strain and was replaced by Parthiv Patel.

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