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Thursday, 26 December 2013

Report: South Africa vs India, 2nd Test, Day 1 - INDIA Tour SA


A determined performance by Murali Vijay (91*) and Cheteshwar Pujara (58*) helped India to 181 for one at stumps on Day 1 against South Africa in Durban. They blunted the Proteas’ attack to add 140 runs in an unbroken partnership after the departure of Shikhar Dhawan in the first session, until bad light forced play to be called off. (Also Read: Stats Highlights: South Africa vs India, 1st Test, Day 1)

MS Dhoni once again opted to bat first after winning the toss and the batsmen rose to the occasion. Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay saw the new ball off and bided their time at the crease, while the Dale Steyn-led attack hit the deck hard at Kingsmead. However, an hour into the day, Dhawan departed pushing the ball to third slip. Much to South Africa’s relief, Morne Morkel who was injured during the first Test recovered quickly to turn up for the hosts at Durban. Accounting for the wicket of the left-hand batsman, the tall pacer gave the Proteas their first and only breakthrough of the day. 

Vijay played watchfully to hold up one end. Though he played and missed a few and had taken a couple of body blows, he continued to rally on and blunt the hosts’ attack. With Cheteshwar Pujara, he took India to lunch at 76 for one. Unhurried in their approach, the pair negotiated the pace quartet of Steyn, Morkel, Vernon Philander and Jacques Kallis. They kept the scoreboard ticking and displayed finesse as they found the odd boundary. Once again the spinner was especially taken advantage of by the Indians. Robin Peterson who had replaced Imran Tahir was milked for 15 runs off three overs in the first session. 

Comfortably placed, the duo resumed their roles after tea. High in confidence from their performance at the New Wanderers Stadium, they helped India consolidate their innings in the second session. Without losing a wicket in the afternoon session, the visitors stood up admirably to arguably the world’s best bowling attack. The No.3 batsman survived a half-chance as the ball didn’t carry to Morkel to the mid-wicket, falling a tad short after Pujara had struck Philander. 

Not given an inch by the opposition bowlers, they continued to add to the tally. The opener brought up his half-century early in the second session, while Pujara worked his way towards his.

With the pitch not doing much but with the bowlers bowling a disciplined line, the Indian batsmen built the partnership patiently. Vijay drove a half-volley by Philander to the ropes to take the stand to the three-figure mark and followed it up with another. 

He had done admirably to avoid bouncers and defended well as he added to the total and was complemented by the No.3 batsman. 

Pujara struck Peterson through the deep cover region to bring up his half-century towards the end of the session. Even as the ball had started to reverse and Steyn ran in hard, the pair stood their ground to take the team to tea. Having added 87 runs from 27 overs in the session, they had taken India to 163. 

Vijay stepped out to Peterson in the last session to dispatch him to the long-on boundary and then lofted him over mid-wicket and then ran a single to claim nine from the over. In the next over, the opener changed gears to duck against the short deliveries from Steyn who attacked the batsman. Pujara too took one on the shoulder as the fast bowler ran in hard from around the wicket. Bowling short and fast, Steyn clocked a maiden. 

Bad light threatened to halt the game and cut the day short. And with SA searching for wickets, Morkel was reintroduced into the attack from the other end. Although the bowlers were miserly, they weren’t able to create any further chances. 

After 61 overs, poor light forced the play to be stopped for the day.

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