The warm-up match between South Africa and Board President XI concluded in a draw on Saturday, with KL Rahul and Cheteshwar Pujara undefeated at the crease for the Indian team, who finished the day at 92 for no loss in the second innings.
South Africa managed to gain a narrow first innings lead, but have had their hopes of good practice for the 1st Test in Mohali from Thursday slightly spoiled by an unrated Indian pace bowler.
The Protea batsmen would be very disappointed with the day, none of their stays at the crease lasting long enough for them to even face the spinners. Carrying on his good work from Day 1, it was 24-year-old Mumbai pacer Shardul Thakur who broke the backbone of the South African batting order, snaring Faf du Plessis (4) and Hashim Amla (1) early on in the morning session on Day 2.
Thakur finished with figures of 4/70 – the best bowling figures in the match, and one of the best bowling performances in what has been a batsman-dominated series of matches. Much vaunted pacer and overnight Ranji sensation Nathu Singh also picked his first wicket, getting opener Dean Elgar to edge a delivery to Unmukt Chand in the slips.
There were only a few hundred people who had turned up to see the match at the Brabourne Stadium, but they cheered when AB de Villiers entered the field, cheered tirelessly as the in-form ODI captain hit 18 fours on way to a strokeful 131-ball 112, and gave him a rousing ovation as he walked back after another great knock.
Along with Dane Vilas (54 off 78), who will take up the gloves in all probability in the 1st Test, De Villiers brought up 115 runs for the 7th wicket.
Dale Steyn went on an attacking spree after De Villiers’ dismissal, taking his side to 302, over the Board President XI first innings score by 6 runs. All the three spinners – Karn Sharma, Kuldeep Yadav and Jayant Yadav – were expensive in their overs, but Jayant did account for the important wickets of De Villiers and Vilas.
KL Rahul and Cheteshwar Pujara, the two players in the team with a place in the India team at stake, opened the second innings for Board President XI – playing faultless cricket on way to facing 30 overs of spin from South Africa.
Both of them faced 90 balls each, Rahul scoring 43 and Pujara 49, as the Indian team finished the match 86 runs ahead.