Bad light arrests Indian juggernaut

2nd Test -- Unbeaten half-centuries by Vijay and Pujara featured on the first day at Durban.

THE PROTAGONISTS: Vijay raises his bat after reaching a fifty, as Kallis returns to his mark.

Scorecard | Match pictures | Schedule

DURBAN:
Murali Vijay was closing in on a first overseas Test hundred when bad light did what South Africa's pacemen had failed to: halt India's assured advance on the first day of the second Test at Durban. MS Dhoni's team were sitting pretty on 181/1 in the 61 overs that the conditions permitted, before descending gloom spelt the end of play. After their captain sent them in to bat, on a pitch with limited lateral movement, and in a match that forms the final encounter of a unjustly-brief series, India's young stars Vijay (91*) and Cheteshwar Pujara (58*) added 140 near-chanceless runs for the second wicket, before the light meters came into action and sent them on their way.

If he had put in the hard yards at Johannesburg, now was the time for Vijay to reap the rewards. The Chennai opener’s 201-ball stay in the middle was an illustration in grafting, although it came on a surface that was radically unlike the Durban pitch on which India had last played and struggled to cross 200, in 2010. Supporting Vijay (‘supporting’ used here purely in a quantifying capacity) was Pujara, who helped himself to his fourth Test fifty, one that he will have high hopes of converting into yet another ton – Pujara
had six centuries and three fifties from 16 Tests before this one.

Good toss

Dhoni elected to bat on a wicket with precious little for the faster men and South Africa’s bowlers struggled to gain appreciable movement. The result was a natural recourse to a fuller length, much to the delight of the openers Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan. The mustachioed Delhiite looked good in his short, boundary-happy stay for 29, and ensured that even the slightest of over-pitching met with the sternest response. But on the first ball after drinks, with the total on 41, Dhawan pushed at yet another full delivery, Morne Morkel’s, and edged to third slip. That Morkel was playing was a miracle in itself, considering the disturbing picture of his damaged ankle that he had posted just a few days earlier on Twitter.

 SPECTATOR SUPPORT: MSDWell, Morkel played, and was evidently at peak fitness going by the nippy (above 145 kmph) stuff he regularly unleashed. Dale Steyn from the other end was desperate for an improvement on his one-wicket showing at the Wanderers. Both breathed fire and probed the batters around the off-stump: Vijay was struck on the arm, then on the box, then beaten, but stayed put, before Robin Peterson’s docile left-arm spin relieved the pressure.

Peterson, in the side for Imran Tahir, was taken for a boundary in each of his first three overs and India went to lunch on 76/1. The second session proved to be even more fruitful: 87 runs for no wicket, as both Vijay and Pujara eased into a comfortable groove. Vijay leaned into drives off Steyn and Vernon Philander - who had last week ascended to the No.1 Test bowler’s slot - and then slashed Jacques Kallis, playing his last Test, to bring up his fourth fifty.

Classy Pujara


Pujara meanwhile was picking on Steyn, timing him through the on-side each time the paceman strayed on the pads. A whip and a flick stood out, and when Peterson came on for his second spell late in the middle session, Pujara stepped out to loft him over cover for another sparkling half-century, his fourth in Tests.

There was, however, some reverse swing for the bowlers, not enough to cause outright distress to batsmen, but enough to compel Graeme Smith to experiment with a legside-heavy field. Bad light eventually arrested India’s progress, Vijay nine tantalizing runs away from a first away ton, and Pujara looking good for his second of the series. Play will resume half-hour earlier than scheduled on Friday to make up for lost time.

ALSO SEE: MATCH PICTURES


South Africa's Vernon Philander celebrates the wicket of India's Rohit Sharma during the fifth day of the second test cricket match in Durban, December 30, 2013. REUTERS/Rogan Ward (SOUTH AFRICA - ... more 
South Africa's Vernon Philander celebrates the wicket of India's Rohit Sharma during the fifth day of the second test cricket match in Durban, December 30, 2013. REUTERS/Rogan Ward (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT CRICKET) less 
1 / 30
Reuters | Photo by ROGAN WARD / Reuters
Mon 30 Dec, 2013 4:38 PM IST

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

An all-round display saw Knight Riders thump Mumbai Indians by 41 runs in the IPL-7 opener. More »

Pietersen to miss Delhi's first game

Pietersen to miss Delhi's first game

The former England batsman will have to lead the franchise as he is out of the match against Bangalore with a finger injury. More »

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

The court emphasised that the tainted administrator can no longer work for the BCCI. More »

'If you do the wrong thing it will be found out'

'If you do the wrong thing it will be found out'

'Everyone knows what is right and what is wrong and if you do the wrong thing it will be found out' More »

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Welcome to another season of a league that many watch but few trust. More »

Mitchell Johnson may quit T20s for Test cricket

Mitchell Johnson may quit T20s for Test cricket

Australia's Mitchell Johnson may quit limited-overs cricket to prolong his test career with an eye on the 2015 Ashes series in England, the fast bowler… More »

There's a lot going on: Fleming

There's a lot going on: Fleming

He experienced anxious moments in the lead-up to the tournament as the courts decided on whether to suspend the franchise, he said, but stressed that the… More »

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Former Pakistan cricket captain Rashid Latif said Tuesday he turned down the job of national chief selector because he could not work with ex-players tainted… More »

We are not over-confident: Bailey

We are not over-confident: Bailey

Indian Premier League — George Bailey-led Kings XI Punjab will face Chennai Super Kings on Friday. More »

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

MoU between BCCI & its units to avoid double taxation delayed after a few decline to share details. More »

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Their main concern, once again, is the fast bowling More »

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

New Zealand selectors included two new caps in a 15-man Test squad named Tuesday to tour the West Indies, with injury-hit spinner Dan Vettori's future… More »

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The Preview — Defending champions Mumbai Indians take on Kolkata Knight Riders More »

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

He was aggrieved by the allegations against him during the hearing. More »

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Michael Klinger has revealed he felt compelled to leave South Australia after being told he would be only a fringe part of the Redbacks' plans for next season, and disputed the suggestion that he left… More »

India: cricket's Brazil

India: cricket's Brazil

They are tough to beat with a big talent base exposed to good facilities. (CYCSPL) More »

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Franchises are doing their bit to refurbish the image of the tainted league. More »

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

The revival of Indo-Pak Test ties could take place in UAE. More »

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

'This time around we will hope to go few more steps ahead and actually get that trophy' More »

Gavaskar can help IPL regain glory

Gavaskar can help IPL regain glory

Apart from the foreign players a lot of behind-the-scene activity has taken place in selecting the Indian domestic players. More »

Tendulkar, Ganguly to promote soccer

Tendulkar, Ganguly to promote soccer

Leading Spanish club Atletico Madrid and former cricketers Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly are among the owners of eight franchises of a new Indian… More »

This isn’t my first trip to India: Neesham

This isn’t my first trip to India: Neesham

Kiwi all-rounder wants to utilise the India leg to explore the country’s tourist attractions. More »

Ishant wanted to quit ODIs

Ishant wanted to quit ODIs

Says his mother made him change his mind. More »