Proteas vs India: Plays of the day

2013-12-19 08:07

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India: 255/5 (Virat Kohli 119, Rahane 43*, Morkel 1/27, Kallis 1/37)

Virat Kohli’s fifth test century gave India a position of stability that could be beneficial for them on the second day of the first Test.

Kohli’s century was the cornerstone of a middling but satisfactory day-one effort by the tourists, who walked into the game without any sort of warm-up after their two-day practice game against the South African Invitational XI at Willowmoore Park in Benoni was washed out over the weekend.

Ajinkya Rahane and captain MS Dhoni saw off the threat of the new ball without any worries.

With an uncommon discipline shown by the Indians, the Proteas do have a game on their hands.

There were times when that discipline deserted them, through the wickets of Kohli and Rohit Sharma. Sharma was building nicely on 14 before he was prised out by a Vernon Philander outswinger just before tea, while Kohli tamely chipped to JP Duminy at cover when he was well set.

Kohli did not play like someone who was on his maiden test outing in South Africa, corralling his team from a dangerous 24/2 after Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan were found wanting by the short ball.

The left-handed Dhawan showed inclination to get behind the line and battle the short ball barrage with skill and courage.

He tried to hit out at every given opportunity and when he was caught by Imran Tahir off a Dale Steyn hooking, the plan came off. Vijay was set up by the short ball and was lucky to be missed by Hashim Amla on six but he did not get past Morne Morkel’s next over.

Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara stabilised the innings with a third-wicket partnership of 89 which was ended by a brain fade when Kohli did not respond to a call for a single, with Pujara halfway up the pitch. It was a messy run-out that stalled India’s gathering momentum, but Kohli made sure he converted his start with a superb 140-ball hundred.

He perished, but the job was done by India’s new number four.

It will be up to India’s lower order to convert the total into something substantial against an attack that toiled manfully on an uncharacteristically unresponsive track.

Plays of the day

A raucous celebration and a lazy shot made for an engrossing day of cricket at the Wanderers.

Drop of the day

It was a tough chance off Vijay but in the scheme of the movement of play, it will go down as the drop of the day for the sheer attempt of getting to the ball.

Morkel had given the right-handed opening batsman a proper working over and by the time one delivery got too big for him, there was a sense of him not wanting to be at the wicket. He was lucky that Amla was stationed at backward short-leg rather than the customary forward short-leg position. Even then, Amla made a good fist of getting to the ball. Pity Vijay could only last one more over without adding to his score of six.

Celebration of the day

Kohli is not the most reserved of players and when he celebrates his milestones, the exuberance of youth is often on display. When he clipped Duminy to mid-wicket to take the two runs that took him to his fifth Test century, there was a jump and a scream before the customary swinging of the bat. It was a boisterous performance.

Non-call of the day

While Kohli was proceeding serenely, his team mates were finding the going tough. When he partnered Pujara for an 89-run partnership that put to bed any demons that may have been in the pitch, it seemed like India were due for a big score. But Kohli turned down a single while Pujara was halfway down the pitch. It was a cheap wicket that temporarily set India back.

Catch of the day

Most of the chances that went AB de Villiers’ way were regulation chances that were snaffled easily. Duminy’s catch to get rid of Kohli was a run-of-the-mill chance, but its importance lay in dismissing India’s best batsman via a tame chance. It robbed Kohli of a chance to make a big score and give India a better platform on day two. What he did though was more than enough.

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