Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara shared an unbeaten century partnership for the second wicket as South Africa’s bowlers were made to toil on an unresponsive pitch on the first day of the second and final Test against India at Kingsmead in Durban yesterday.
Vijay (76 not out) and Pujara (55 not out) enabled India to reach 163-1 at tea after winning the toss.
Morne Morkel claimed South Africa’s only wicket when he had Shikhar Dhawan caught at third slip off the first ball after the mid-morning drinks break. Dhawan made 29 in an opening stand of 41 with Vijay.
Morkel suffered a sprained right ankle while fielding on the third day of the drawn first Test in Johannesburg on Friday last week. It was initially expected he would be put of action for between seven and 10 days, but he passed a fitness test yesterday morning after intensive treatment.
It was a good toss for India to win, with captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni noting that the pitch looked dry and good for batting.
It also gave India’s fast bowlers a chance to recover further from their exertions in Johannesburg, where India bowled 136 overs in the last innings without being able to clinch victory.
Dhawan and Vijay both looked confident at the start of the innings, and the left-handed Dhawan struck four boundaries before edging a drive to Alviro Petersen.
Vijay batted patiently to notch a half-century off 102 balls, a statistic made notable by the fact that it included 11 boundaries. By tea he had faced 167 balls and added another three fours.
Pujara reached his half-century shortly before tea off 97 balls with seven fours.
India made one change, with left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja replacing off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin. South Africa also made a change, with left-arm spinner Robin Peterson coming in for leg-spinner Imran Tahir.
Jacques Kallis led the Proteas on to the field to a standing ovation from the crowd after announcing on Wednesday that he would be retiring from Test cricket after the match.