Proteas dominate to lead series

2010-12-20 13:26

South Africa beat India by an innings and 25 runs in the first Test match at Centurion today to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

“It was a pretty dominant performance,” said Proteas’ captain Graeme Smith. “We controlled the game throughout.”

India were dismissed for 459 in their second innings and it took South Africa just 26 minutes and 35 balls to wrap up the Test this morning after India were 454 for eight wickets overnight.

Sachin Tendulkar was unbeaten on 111 after scoring his historic 50th Test century yesterday.

It was always going to be an uphill battle for the Indians, after a maiden Test double-century from Jacques Kallis, an explosive 100 by AB de Villiers and a first-innings five-wicket haul by Morne Morkel, not to mention the visitors’ first innings 136 all out.

Admittedly, India faced the worst of the conditions on day one after losing the toss, but their bowlers seemed toothless in defence as South Africa amassed 620 for four declared, leaving themselves plenty of time to bowl out India again.

Tendulkar’s prolific seventh wicket stand of 172 runs with captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Sunday gave India some hope that South Africa could be forced to bat again, but this was not to be after Dhoni was dismissed on 90.

The match may well have ended sooner, but for bad light followed by torrential rain, which forced the match into a fifth morning.

“Yesterday’s partnership of Tendulkar and Dhoni was the one time that we had to put in the yards. The wicket flattened out a lot and the guys showed a lot of character to bounce back late in the day,” said Smith.

“Dale’s spell at the end of the day really made the difference, but otherwise we really played dominant cricket. We were ahead most of the time which gave us a lot of time to bowl India out a second time.”

The first wicket to fall this morning was that of Sree Sreesanth (3), who was dismissed without adding to his overnight score when he edged Morne Morkel to AB de Villiers at third slip.

He was followed by debutante Jaidev Unadkat (1) who faced 10 balls before he was caught by Ashwell Prince in the gully, giving Dale Steyn his fourth wicket.

“One of the things that worries us most is that we couldn’t bowl them out. We’ve played on flatter tracks before and you’re supposed to get the batsmen out which we failed to do. That’s an area of concern, because to win a Test match you need to get 20 wickets,” said Dhoni.

Despite his team’s dismal performance on day one, he would not make excuses for them and was full of praise for the South Africans.

“We knew the toss would be crucial here, but winning the toss is only half the job done. South Africa bowled really well, then their opening batsmen got them off to a good start and the middle order really capitalised on it.

“Kallis batted really well along with [Hashim] Amla and De Villiers, who made that quick 100 which helped them a lot. Overall, they performed really well in all three departments.

“But there were plenty of positives for us also. Most of our batsmen got off to good starts and that’s something which we need to carry with us to Durban.

“Our first and foremost priority is to level the series, so the next Test is very important for us,” he said.

Smith, on the other hand, said all the pressure was now on India.

“Being 1-0 down in a three-match series means there’s a lot of pressure on them. The build-up to the next Test becomes crucial,” he said.

“I know an Indian team always plays under pressure, but people have high expectations – they’re number one in the world and people really expected them to perform well.

“If we can go to Durban and really put in a good first few days, then maybe we can build that up and topple them.”

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