opener Murali Vijay admires his shot through the offside during the first day of the second Test against South Africa
, December 26. Reuters
Another Test batting master class from India - courtesy the we-will-not-be-breached Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara - helped the away side to a position of strength on the first day of the second Test in Durban, before bad light decided to come to the beleaguered South Africa's aid.
When the umpires decided to stop the game for the day, India were on this-could-be-the-beginning-of-a-huge-total 181 for one in 61 overs, with Vijay batting on 91 (201b, 17x4) and Pujara, unstoppable, on 58 (117b, 7x4).
It was always going to be win the toss and bat first pitch, and MS Dhoni, for the second Test in a row called right and with it sending in his openers to bear the I-want-to-make-up-for-a-poor-first-Test Dale Steyn, I-am-accurate-as-can-be Vernon Philander and even-an-ankle-sprain-cannot-stop-me Morne Morkel brunt.
It looked quite good for India, who made one change bringing on Ravindra Jadeja for R Ashwin, right from the off, with Shikhar Dhawan unfurling a couple of delightful boundaries, while Murali Vijay, compact as ever, setup that impregnable fort at the other end.
Dhawan held back on the pull shot on a couple of occasions from the pace bowlers, and seemed a lot more determined to hand around at the crease and build an innings, so necessary in foreign conditions.
However, just when it looked like the left-hander would finally cope with the be-patient-and-you-will-get-your-rewards approach, Dhawan (29, 49b, 4x4) hung out that bat outside off with Morkel finding the edge which was caught by Alviro Petersen in the slips.
In walked in I-was-born-for-Test-cricket Cheteshwar Pujara, with India on 41 for one, and the right-hander, fresh from making a brilliant hundred in the second innings of the first Test, did not look back, was composed as ever, giving Vijay good company as India turned the screws, with the crowd given something to cheer about only when Jacques Kallis, in his final Test before retirement, walked in to bowl.
Both players' plans were simple - stay patient, and make sure you put the bad balls away, with Robin Peterson, in for I-want-to-forget-the-Wanderers-Test-ASAP Imran Tahir, in particular, getting quite a beating.
Cheteshwar Pujara and Murali Vijay put on a brilliant partnership for India on the first day. Steve Haag/BCCI/SPORTZPICS
It was a chanceless partnership - 145 from 47.5 overs -- from Vijay and Pujara, making the South African bowlers, the much-vaunted fast bowling lineup, which consists of two of the best bowlers in the world and Morkel, look pretty ordinary on a pitch, which it must be said, was pretty placid and quite nice to bat on.
India went into Lunch at 76 for one from 26 overs, with the two then taking their team to Tea, without losing a single wicket, on 163 for one from 53 overs.
Vijay was within touching distance of a hundred in the post-Tea session, and the right-hander, keen to get to that three-figure mark as light faded, belted a couple of boundaries over the top off Peterson to inch ever closer.
But it was back to being patient when the fast bowlers were brought back in for the ineffective Peterson, whose primary job is to tie-up one end, which he was just not allowed to do.
Bad light, not liking the way the Test match was going in its home ground, decided to finally come into to play to put a stop to South Africa's misery as India walked off with smiles wider than the Grand Canyon.
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