Graeme Smith hit a battling half-century as South Africa made a strong start to their first innings after bowling out India for 280 on the second day of their first Test at the Wanderers yesterday.
Smith made 62 not out in a South Africa total of 118 for one as the hosts moved within 162 runs of India’s total.
Smith and Hashim Amla (30 not out) shared an unbeaten second-wicket partnership of 81, after Alviro Petersen was LBW to Ishant Sharma for 21 in India’s only success during the afternoon.
Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel ripped through India’s lower order batsmen as the tourists lost their last five wickets for 16 runs at the start of the day.
Resuming at 255 for five in heavily overcast conditions after overnight and early morning rain, Ajinkya Rahane and Mahendra Singh Dhoni made cautious progress against tight bowling from Dale Steyn, Philander and Morkel.
Only nine runs were scored, including three leg-byes and just three scoring shots, before Morkel made the breakthrough with the last ball of the ninth over of the day when Dhoni was caught behind for 19.
Four balls later, Rahane went the same way against Philander for 47. Philander then trapped Zaheer Khan LBW with his very next delivery, with the Indian left-arm seamer caught plumb in front.
Philander picked up Ishant Sharma (zero) as his fourth victim with an in-swinger that clipped the top of off-stump.
Morkel denied Philander his five-wicket haul and 100th Test scalp when he bowled Mohammed Shami (zero) to wrap up the innings, leaving Ravichandran Ashwin stranded on 11 not out.
FOUR FOR 61
Philander finished with four for 61, after taking three for six in six overs yesterday, and Morkel took three for 34 in 23 overs.
South Africa captain Smith seldom looked assured on a pitch which seemed to be offering more assistance to the bowlers than on the first day.
He had some awkward moments against India left-arm opening bowler Zaheer Khan, who has dismissed him six times in Tests, and was dropped at first slip by Ashwin off Khan when he had 19.
However, typically, Smith’s concentration never wavered as he reached his half-century off 98 balls with nine fours.