Johannesburg: Indian batsman Ajinkya Rahane Thursday said his side's second innings batting will have a "crucial" bearing on the first Test against South Africa here after the visitors came back into the match with a devastating exhibition of seam bowling by their pacers.
India were bowled out for 280 in their first innings but clawed back brilliantly to leave the hosts at 213 for six at close in an action-packed second day.
"We wanted to bat as long as possible, but that did not happen. Virat Kohli batted well for his hundred yesterday and we had three crucial partnerships, so I can say the batting unit has done very well. Our second innings will be very crucial," said Rahane, who contributed 47 runs to the Indian total, at the post-match press conference.
"South Africa are still trailing us by 67 runs. We need continue to bowl well tomorrow and take wickets of their tail. Then we need to bat well, because chasing 275 runs on this pitch will be a challenge," he said. Rahane said his experience of South African conditions as part of India A team earlier in the year has helped him. "Batting on this pitch is not difficult, but challenging.
Because, South Africa pace attack is very good. Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel are experienced bowlers. I just wanted to bat in my limitations and take my time in the middle. I have an experience of 65 first-Class games, so that helped," he said. "Also, I toured here in August as part of India A team, so experience of the conditions from that time also helped me," he added.
India lost five wickets for 16 runs in the morning session and then themselves took five for 16 post-tea to reduce the hosts to 146 for 6 before Vernon Philander (48 batting) and Faf du Plessis (17 batting) rescued them with an unbroken 67-run partnership for the seventh wicket.
South Africa were still trailing India by 67 runs. India could have been a better position had they held their catches, with R Ashwin dropping Graeme Smith when on 19 (Smith scored 68) and Rohit Sharma dropping du Plessis late in the day. "This is part and parcel of the game. We need to back our team-mates and give them confidence," Rahane said.