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India dominate on curtailed Day 1 in Durban

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Jacques Kallis’ final match as a South African Test cricketer got underway at Durban on Thursday. Billed as the ‘Boxing Day’ knock-out bout between the top two teams in world cricket, the first day was largely dominated by India on a sluggish Durban track, before bad light stopped play with Cheteshwar Pujara and Murali Vijay undefeated with 58 and 91 to their names respectively.

MS Dhoni won the toss and decided to bat first on a track that was not like the traditional, fast paced and bouncy Durban track. The South African great, Shaun Pollock suggested during the pitch report that the bounce would be spongy and the pitch would be slower due to the moisture in it. And so correct was the prediction that not for once did the South African bowlers seemed to trouble the Indian batsmen. Apart from Shikhar Dhawan’s wicket and a couple of close calls, the Indian top order had a field day.

The day started with a confident straight drive from Shikhar Dhawan of Dale Steyn’s bowling, however the ‘mustachioed mauler’ could not prolong his stay further than the 29 runs he scored in the first hour of the day’s play. Unlike his breathtaking Test debut, Dhawan fell to Morne Morkel, trying to push a delivery outside off stump – he was dismissed, caught at slip. His dismissal however seemed to have no effect on Vijay who showed glimpses of the good form he was in, by playing a resilient unbeaten innings of 91. He mixed caution and aggression well, scoring the runs with the help of 17 boundaries that included a glorious flick of Kallis’ bowling. At the other end, Cheteshwar Pujara played a gritty knock, destroying the effectiveness of the South African pace attack with the new ball. He seemed edgy at times, but not for once did he let his concentration waiver.

But as light faded away, the game was set alive by some fantastic bowling by Dale Steyn from round the wicket to the right handed Vijay. Bowling just short of length, Steyn angled the ball from the batsman’s rib cages to first slip, with Vijay unable to connect even once.

Leading up to Day 2, the South Africans in all likelihood are looking at a long hard day out in the field, while India would want to add as much as they can to their overnight score of 181/1.

Teams:

South Africa: G Smith (Capt), A Petersen, H Amla, J Kallis, AB de Villiers, F du Plessis, J Duminy, V Philander, R Peterson, M Morkel, D Steyn

India: M Vijay, S Dhawan, C Pujara, V Kohli, R Sharma, A Rahane, MS Dhoni (Capt), R Jadeja, M Shami, Z Khan, I Sharma

Mini Scorecard:

India 1st Innings – 181/1 (61 overs, 2.96 r.p.o)

M Vijay 91* (201) M Morkel 1/26 (12)

C Pujara 58* (117)