Hardik Pandya departs on 93, Faf du Plessis kisses Kagiso Rabada's forehead for the wicket

Pandya completed his half-century in just 46 balls and proved his worth yet again. All this while he also hit 10 boundaries

Hardik Pandya has yet again proved that he can do marvels in the middle order, just when the team needs him the most. In the first Test against South Africa at Newlands in Capetown, Pandya got his 2nd Test fifty at a stage when the Proteas bowlers were leaving no stone unturned to tear India’s batting apart. He could have scored his 2nd Test century on the South African soil but Kagiso Rabada didn’t let that happen. In the third session when Pandya was playing on 93, Rabada dismissed Pandya and got a kiss on his forehead from his skipper Faf du Plessis.

Earlier, the top three Indian batsmen were back to the dressing room on the first day itself. Murali Vijay (1), Shikhar Dhawan (16) and Virat Kohli (5) couldn’t give the required start to the team. On the second day, Cheteshwar Pujara and Rohit Sharma tried their best to anchor the innings against a lethal South African pace attack, but by the end of the first session, Kagiso Rabada got a much-needed breakthrough and removed Rohit Sharma on 11.

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India lost Cheteshwar Pujara on 26 right in the beginning of the second session while the entire top order was watching this turmoil from the dressing room. Then came Hardik Pandya, as India was at 76/5. He batted in his own style and faced the Protea pacers bravely. India went on to lose the wickets of R Ashwin (12) and Wriddhiman Saha (0) but Pandya carried through and played his natural game.

While batting alongside Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Pandya finally completed his half-century in just 46 balls and proved his worth yet again. All this while he also hit 10 boundaries and took the team total beyond 100 runs.

Unfortunately, in the first ball of the 70th over, Rabada delivered a short ball which to took the upper edge of Pandya’s bat and landed in Quinton de Kock’s gloves. Pandya’s great inning of 93 runs came to an end but he received a huge applaud while returning to the dressing. Pandya faced 95 balls, hit 14 fours and a six.

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This is not the first time that his batting turned out to be a saviour for the Indian cricket team. In the third Test against Sri Lanka in Pallekele in August 2017, Pandya scored his first Test hundred. He scored 108 runs off 96 balls, and hit 8 boundaries and 7 sixes.

If Pandya continues his batting against the Proteas, there are possibilities that he might get his second Test hundred of his career.