India vs South Africa: When Goliath finally saw glimpses of David

Sune and Marizanne put on a fight after India posted record total on Day 2 at Chepauk.
Together, Sune and Marizanne added 93 runs from 176 balls before Luus got out for 65 off 164.
Together, Sune and Marizanne added 93 runs from 176 balls before Luus got out for 65 off 164.Photo | P. Ravikumar, EPS

CHENNAI: The Biblical account of David and Goliath is one of the most popular Bible stories ever. It is about courage, faith, and overcoming what seems impossible. Day 2 of the Test match between India and South Africa in Chennai turned out to be the representation of this story in some sense but with a twist.

When the day started with India at 525/4 in 98 overs. Captain Harmanpreet Kaur, looking to raise her bat in the Test whites for the first time, and Richa Ghosh, hoping to make the most of her sophomore Test. It didn't take a lot of time for both players to reach the milestone. Richa followed her captain and at one point it looked like the duo was looking to add two more centuries in the same innings after both openers, Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana, had put on a ton each.

It felt like South African bowlers had no other option but to keep bowling. The duo waltzed their way to a century partnership and then India broke the record of the highest team score in an innings going past the one set by Australia just in February this year. If those records were not enough, India became the first-ever women's team to score 600+ runs in one innings. All of this happened in the first session of Day 2. There were no comparisons in women's cricket for this feat. A completely uncharted territory. The strongest-ever performance in the format.

That is what Goliath is supposed to be like. right? All powerful. And India are Goliath, especially in the longest format at home. Since restarting Test cricket at home late in 2023, neither England nor Australia, the cricketing nations who have regularly played women's Test cricket, have been able to even come close to the dominance.

While England could bat for just 63 overs combined in both innings, Australia's efforts fell short. The only batter who looked like they could make India's bowlers think outside the box was Australia's vice-captain Tahlia McGrath. She was the only player to score two half-centuries in the formal against India. Neither England nor Australia had two players scoring a half-century in a single innings. India's bowlers did not allow anyone to settle. Goliath indeed.

Together, Sune and Marizanne added 93 runs from 176 balls before Luus got out for 65 off 164.
Sune, Marizanne lead South Africa fightback after India's record total

So when Sune Luus and Marizanne Kapp decided to do what the other teams couldn't; stay in their crease and not let any sniff to the Indian bowlers, things got interesting. While Luus came in with the fall of captain Laura Wolvaardt's wicket, the ball was keeping low. That's precisely what deceived the South African captain. Luus inherited the simple policy of defend, defend and defend and she was in no hurry at all. Once Anneke Bosch fell, close to team 100, the Zen of Luus met with even calmer Marizaane Kapp and the rebuilding continued. Together, they added 93 runs from 176 balls before Luus got out for 65 off 164. Kapp (69 batting), meanwhile, held her ground, along with Nadine de Klerk as South Africa finished the day with 236/4 on board.

"They'd also come to bat. The pitch did help the batters. They played really beautifully, the whole innings stabilising part was really good on their part," even India's Sneh Rana complimented the South African duo.

The partnership grew so did the chats around the two South African batters from Indian players. No sledging as such but a chirpy talk according to Luus. "And they were very chirpy," Luus told the media while laughing after the day's play. "I really don’t understand them, but they offered me chocolate, which was very nice. But no, I think they were very chatting on the field. I think they love the contest. I think every ball you feel like something is happening with them, which it probably is. They've got a good competitive spirit and you can feel it every time someone bowls to you.

"So now it's awesome playing in India with the girls. Obviously played alongside them, so it's playing with some of your friends as well. I think when I walked in to bat Smriti just came to me and just asked if she must come on to bowl. And I said yes, she didn't, so that was a bit disappointing. They've got some good chirps going," Luus added.

Day two will be remembered for the time when David and Goliath locked horns in the highest spirit of the game. Goliath did Goliath things but David hung around to give fight. We will see what day three brings to the table.

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The New Indian Express