Proteas bowlers give India a rough time

2013-12-18 13:05

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India: 70/2 (Virat Kohli 32*, Cheteshwar Pujara 18, Morkel 1/6, Steyn 1/18)

India was fortunate to find themselves only two wickets down at lunch on the first day of the first test against the Proteas at the Wanderers.

Testing spells from Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel ensured that India’s openers had a rough time of it after MS Dhoni had won the toss and chose to bat first on a track with a tinge of green and true bounce.

While there was one edge from Cheteshwar Pujara that didn’t carry to Graeme Smith at first slip in the 20th over, the South African bowlers generated good pace and bounce.

The bounce accounted for Shikhar Dhawan, who had no aptitude in dealing with the short-ball barrage from Dale Steyn. The fact that he donned an arm-guard and chest-guard seemed to indicate that he was not keen for a fight – that survival would be the best strategy.

An attacking talent like him does not enjoy being tied down. Erroneously, Smith did not have a short leg early on, which made life easier for Dhawan. The latter’s patience only lasted for nine overs as he skied a bouncer to Imran Tahir at deep fine-leg, ending his 27-ball innings that contained two streaky boundaries.

There was no respite from the other end, despite a lacklustre opening spell from Vernon Philander, as Morkel was unlucky not to get an edge from a superb first over to Murali Vijay. The Tamil Nadu batsman was lucky when Hashim Amla shelled a tough chance at backward short leg.

But Vijay did not make the most of his lifeline, falling in Morkel’s next over to leave India tottering at 24/2 in the 15th over.

The short ball barrage from Morkel’s previous over left Vijay’s feet rooted to the crease, making him susceptible to the fuller delivery. He just could not resist the bait when it was thrown at him.

Pujara and Virat Kohli saw the visitors safely to lunch but not before another searching spell from Steyn and an improved showing by Philander, who found his back-of-a-length touch. He troubled the two, on whom the hope of a significant total now rests.

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