Vijay and Pujara grind South Africa on Day 1
Date : 26-12-2013
December 26th 2013
Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara helped India to reach a commanding position of 1/181 before bad light ended the day with 29 overs still left to be bowled. It was a day where India won the toss and batted with intent and purpose. They were watchful enough to survive a probing spell but quick to latch on to any loose deliveries.
That this series is a two-test affair is a real pity. It is not often a drawn test is said to be interesting – however the 1st test of this series in Johannesburg was as nail-biting as it gets. South Africa fell 8 runs short of a record chase; India - which were the better team on four of the five days were only able to get 5 wickets on the final day instead of eight. In the end, a stalemate was perhaps the best result.
Before the start of this test series, India was not thought to be much of a challenge to the South Africans. India’s traditional weaknesses against the short-pitched ball were said to be exposed, whilst their bowlers were not seen as being capable of taking 20 wickets away from home.
However, India so far has shown the application to test and challenge South Africa. Dale Steyn’s threat has been neutralized to such an effect that he has bowled 67 overs since the 1st test without a wicket. This has been the longest he has bowled since he claimed a wicket. Morkel has troubled all the Indian batsmen, but India has found a way to respond to the barrage. Playing spin has always been India’s strength and South Africa’s spinners in this series – Tahir in the 1st test and Peterson in the 2nd - have been attacked mercilessly.
Murali Vijay’s three highest test scores have been against Australia. He is currently nine runs short of his fourth century. Should he manage to reach three figures, this would have to rank as among his best. Vijay swayed away from balls that threatened to knock his head off and showed enough aggression to hit 17 boundaries. As has been India’s game-plan throughout this test series, Vijay was patient against Steyn & Morkel. He scored only 26 runs against the pair off 82 deliveries with four boundaries. However he was severe on Peterson hitting 28 in 40 deliveries faced.
Vijay found solid support from Pujara, who looked unshakable in his unbeaten innings of 58. He currently boasts a test average of over 70 and has six centuries so far in just 27 innings. It would be fascinating to see if he can script number seven in Durban.
Dhawan was the only Indian wicket to fall on Day 1, departing for 29 after Morkel induced an edge. MS Dhoni however would be a content skipper and would hope his batsmen bat South Africa out of this test match. For the Proteas, the only real highlight was Jacques Kallis leading the South African team onto the field. He removed his hat and waved to all parts of the ground. South Africa will want to give their legend a fitting farewell, whilst India will be itching to win a historic overseas series.
India will resume batting on Day 2 on 1/181.
Navneet Ganesh is the Founder of Infinity Cricket
He is a cricketing enthusiast and is passionate about its development and growth.
Infinity Cricket was launched in 2010 with a vision of ‘connecting people through cricket.’
Infinity Cricket organizes the largest ‘open’ T20 cricket events in Melbourne: the Summer Infinity T20 Cricket Tournament & Winter T20 Challenge.