India goes to lunch safely on first day of Boxing Day test

2013-12-26 12:37

India: 76/1 (Vijay 33*, Dhawan 29, Pujara 13*, Morkel 1/14)

Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara took India safely to lunch on the first day of the Boxing Day (Day of Goodwill) test in Durban.

MS Dhoni won the toss and chose to bat on an uncharacteristically flat and dry Kingsmead wicket. Both sides made one change from the Johannesburg thriller.

Ravichandran Ashwin made way for Ravindra Jadeja, while Robin Peterson replaced Imran Tahir. Morne Morkel recovered miraculously from his injured ankle.

Durban has seen plenty of rain recently, but that did not manifest into a spicy track. Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan tucked into the servings dished up by the Proteas, racing to 33 without loss in seven overs.

In test match terms, especially considering that India is known for its struggles with opening batsmen away from home, it was a decent start.

The second hour of the first session was marginally shaded by the visitors, who look like they are setting themselves up for a big score.

But Dhawan could not convert his start, prised out by a good Morkel delivery from around the wicket. He guided a wide delivery into Alviro Petersen’s hands at third slip.

It was reward for a probing spell after Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander struggled to make early inroads. Morkel’s run-up was considerably shorter to ease the pressure on his fragile ankle, but that did not mean a reduction in pace.

On tracks so un-South African as the one at Kingsmead, it is his pace and bounce that are so effective in unsettling the batsmen.

The Proteas missed him dearly in the second innings in Johannesburg, where they were milked by Pujara and Virat Kohli.

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