India take control of first test in South Africa

Tourists hold 320-run lead after third day's play with Kohli and Pujara punishing the Proteas attack

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 December, 2013, 12:51am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 December, 2013, 12:51am


India took complete charge of the opening cricket test against South Africa on Friday by bullying the top-ranked team’s diminished pace attack for a 320-run lead at stumps on the third day at the Wanderers in Johannesburg.

India were 284-2 at the close after South Africa, already struggling and behind, lost fast bowler Morne Morkel to an ankle injury early in India’s second innings.

First-innings century-maker Virat Kohli was 77 not out and Cheteshwar Pujara unbeaten on 135 to give India a convincing advantage with two days to play after South Africa were bowled out for 244 at the start of three sessions of surprisingly one-sided dominance by the tourists.

Kohli and Pujara added 175 runs off 38 overs in the final session to underline India’s superb day.

In the field, South Africa were so desperate at one point that wicketkeeper AB de Villiers bowled an over and batsman Hashim Amla stood in behind the stumps. No 2 India can’t overtake South Africa in the rankings over the brief two-test contest, but can lay down a marker by ending the Proteas’ 13-series unbeaten run stretching back to 2009.

With a 36-run first-innings advantage, India forged further ahead with Pujara’s calculated century, his sixth in just 16 tests. His 70-run partnership with Murali Vijay and unbroken stand of 191 with Kohli also finally put clear daylight between the world’s two best teams after both collapsed in clutches in the first innings.

With Pujara unbeaten and Kohli looking in especially ominous form, India were also aiming to continue their dominance through Saturday as the South African attack, exacerbated by Morkel’s absence, looked suddenly tamer than it has in years on a track made for its pacemen.