By Express News Service and Agencies | Published: 21st December 2013 02:29 AM |
Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli batted India into a position of dominance on the third day of the first Test against South Africa at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg on Friday.
Pujara hit his sixth century in only his 16th Test as India piled up 284 for two in their second innings, an overall lead of 320 against a depleted South African bowling attack.
The foundation was laid by Pujara and Murali Vijay (39) during a watchful second wicket stand of 70.
Pujara (135 not out) and first innings century-maker Kohli (77 not out) shared an unbeaten third wicket partnership of 191 on a pitch which for the most part has been difficult for batsmen.
But as the South African bowlers wilted the batsmen were able to score freely, adding 175 in 38 overs between tea and the close.
South Africa were without Morne Morkel for most of the innings after the tall fast bowler suffered a strained right ankle while fielding. The injury is likely to keep Morkel out of the second and final Test starting in Durban on December 26.
In Morkel’s absence, the Indian batsmen were able to blunt the threat of Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander, batting with discipline and leaving most deliveries outside the off stump.
South African captain Graeme Smith was forced to juggle an attack in which spin bowlers Imran Tahir and JP Duminy were ineffective, even turning to wicketkeeper AB de Villiers for one over before tea.
Pujara was cautious at the start of his innings, taking 127 balls to reach his fifty but he then blossomed, needing only another 41 deliveries to reach his century. By the close he had faced 221 balls and hit 18 boundaries.
Kohli, who made 119 in the first innings, was content to play a secondary role and his 77 was scored off 132 balls with eight fours.
India’s imposing second innings came after Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma finished with four wickets apiece as South Africa were bowled out for 244, giving India a slender first-innings lead of 36.
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