By Nishad Pai Vaidya
Dec 18, 2013
India have gone into lunch on Day One of the first Test against South Africa at Johannesburg at 70 for two. After winning the toss and electing to bat first, the tourists lost their openers early before Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli safely took India to lunch without further damage.
Openers Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay were watchful early on as Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander got the ball to move and climb. Vijay was positive with his footwork and was getting forward to defend and play deliveries. There were a few that he poked at, but he was largely safe. He got things going in the first over when he punched a full delivery back past Steyn for a four.
Meanwhile, Dhawan had some short treatment in store. He was getting into his elements as he worked a few singles and then smashed one through the leg-side for four as the bowler strayed on his pads. However, Steyn came on to bowl in the tenth over and unleashed a barrage of short ones. Dhawan tentatively pulled one, but it went into the boundary between the gap on the leg-side. The next ball climbed and Dhawan had trouble keeping it down. But, then Steyn had his man as Dhawan pulled a short one into the hands of Imran Tahir at fine-leg.
Vijay too had his testing moments once Morne Morkel came into bowl. On one occasion, he couldn’t keep a rising delivery down, but Hashim Amla couldn’t come across from short-leg to complete the catch. Pujara walked in at No 3 and looked assured against the bounce. At one end, Morkel was in the midst of a great spell and didn’t give anything away. After a few shortish deliveries to Vijay, he pushed one forward and Vijay drove at it without any foot movement. It took the edge and AB de Villiers completed the catch.
Then came the moment many waited for. Kohli walked in at No 4 to succeed Sachin Tendulkar in the big role. India’s generation next was in the centre battling the fierce pace attack. Both surveyed the bounce and the testing conditions, although they had a few scares. An edge off Pujara landed short of Graeme Smith at first slip. Kohli tried to withdraw his bat to a short one, but inadvertently managed to guide it over the slip cordon for a four. The next ball took the inside edge and missed the leg-stump by a whisker.
However, there were a few shots that showed confidence. Pujara cracked one through the off-side and Kohli got off the mark by pulling a short one for four with disdain.
Tahir was introduced just before lunch and Kohli dispatched him to the boundary with ease twice. Morkel’s spell was also the highlight of the session as he finished with figures of 6-4-6-1. Kohli raced to 32 at a run-a-ball.
India 70 for 2 (Cheteshwar Pujara 18*; Virat Kohli 32*; Dale Steyn 1 for 18, Morne Morkel 1 for 6) vs South Africa.
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