India strengthen position against Proteas

2013-12-20 15:38

India: 280 and 109/2 (Pujara 39*, Vijay 39, Kallis 1/23, Philander 1/31)

South Africa: 244 all out (Smith 68, Philander 59, Ishant Sharma 4/79, Zaheer Khan 4/88)

India leads by 145 runs

India strengthened their position by pushing their lead past the 100-mark at tea on the third day of the test at the Wanderers.

The visitors should have made it a wicket-less session but Murali Vijay’s lazy leg-side flick was well caught by AB de Villiers in the 34th over.

A South African attack sans the injured Morne Morkel toiled manfully but without success.

The lanky South African fast bowler, who was key in keeping the lid on the Indians in the first innings, rolled his ankle while fielding a stray ball at deep fine leg in the over before lunch.

It was a keenly felt absence as the Proteas were without their enforcer. India was visibly relieved as it would mean a diminished short ball attack.

The runs weren’t flowing as easily as India would have liked but they were happy to bide their time and collect the runs wherever they were available.

Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander found prodigious movement in the air and off the seam. They peppered the offstump with excellent deliveries but in Cheteshwar Pujara, India had a batsman who was willing to graft. They did cash in when the ball was loose.

South Africa’s four-man bowling attack strategy was always going to be tested when they were a man down, which meant that the reluctant Kallis was pressed into action more often than he normally does.

While he wasn’t expensive, he hardly troubled the Indian pair during their 70-run partnership. It did help that Vijay and Pujara were part of the 2010/11 Indian touring team to South Africa, even though their contributions then were minimal.

They showed an appreciation of waiting for the ball to come to them and riding the bounce when the ball was dug in short.

Perhaps the most desperate moment was De Villiers bowling the final over before tea with frontline spinner Imran Tahir’s sole over going for nine runs. It could be the mental fillip India needed.

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