Proteas wilt as Indian batsmen cash in

2013-12-21 09:32

India: 280 and 284/2 (Pujara 135*, Kohli 77*, Kallis 1/51, Philander 1/53)

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

India lead by 320 runs

Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli all but extinguished South Africa’s hopes of winning the first test at the Wanderers with a dismissive display of batting.

They milked a flagging Proteas attack to the tune of 175 runs in the evening session, making sure the lead went well past 300. The highest successful chase at the Wanderers is 310, achieved by Australia in 2011. With the pitch showing signs of deterioration, the new ball will be very important. By the time South Africa get the new cherry, the horse will have long bolted.

Seldom has a South African test team been dominated the way they were but it should not come as a surprise – India have always done well at the Wanderers.

India have never been the fastest of starters on tours but with the new guard, there could be a change of order.

The last time India won a first test match on tour was at the Wanderers in 2006, even though they went on to lose the series. Should they win this one, the series will be all but safe.

This morning’s session will be about how much India want South Africa to get and the Proteas’ minds will be on how they approach saving the game. The Wanderers is not a ground that is kind to teams batting last.

Pujara was always anointed as the man to fill Rahul Dravid’s shoes and his measured 100 showed that the future of India’s batting is very safe. His sixth test hundred was a study of how an innings should be compiled.

He saw off the new ball threat in making his first 50 off 127 balls. That included a life when Imran Tahir shelled a simple return catch when he was on 51.

Good batsmen often make those opportunities count and Pujara cashed in, taking only 41 balls to compile his second 50. There was a period of play in which he and Kohli creamed 10 boundaries in 40 minutes. It was gracefully frenetic, with each racing ball to the boundary sapping the life from the weary Proteas. Kohli followed up his first-innings hundred with a rapid 50, knocking the stuffing out of the Proteas bowlers.

There wasn’t much sun in Joburg yesterday, but the Indian sun was wilting the Protea and quickly. India are set for their second consecutive win in Joburg.

Plays of the day

Strange bowling changes and landmarks characterised a fascinating day three.

Big Vern’s 100

Vernon Philander started the test match on the cusp of greatness, needing just five wickets to become the fastest South African to reach 100 test wickets. His four in the first innings took him to just one short and early in the second innings, Shikhar Dhawan obliged, edging to Jacques Kallis at second slip.

Times two?

In 1997, Dravid made 148 and 81, leaving the Proteas to scrap for a draw. Kohli, who rattled up a superb first-innings 100, decided to etch himself into the record books when he notched up his 50 in the second innings. With the defensive fields set by the Proteas, he will have a harder job getting to his 100 but he has the opportunity of becoming the first Indian batsman to make two hundreds in a test match in South Africa

Ouch!

Morne Morkel rolled his ankle in the last over before lunch. While the Wanderers surface drains very well, Morkel’s right foot plugged in the turf and he rolled over it. His absence was keenly felt as the Proteas attack was flogged around the park. His presence is doubtful for the second test.

Bowling change of the day

Graeme Smith doesn’t often dabble with part-timers, but when AB de Villiers took off the pads, there was consternation. Hashim Amla was an unusual sight in pads, gloves and a floppy hat; with De Villiers throwing a mixed bag of liquorice all sorts you would expect from a wicketkeeper. It was the last over before tea but it was a sign of desperation.

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