Indian openers dominate day after the bowlers dismiss SA for 214

Indian openers dominate day after the bowlers dismiss SA for 214

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Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan put up an unbroken 80-run opening stand and ended the day on the front foot after South Africa were bowled out for 214, in their first innings of the second Test at Bangalore on Saturday. AB de Villiers (85) fought a lone battle on his 100th test, as Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja took four wickets each to dismantle the Proteas' batting line-up.

Brief scores: South Africa 214 in 59 overs (de Villiers 85 (105), Dean Elgar 38(81); Jadeja 4/50, Ashwin 4/70); India 80/0 in 22 overs (Shikhar Dhawan 45 (62)*, Murali Vijay 28(73)*; Abbott 0/18, Morkel 0/23)

Virat Kohli won the toss and asked South Africa to bat first on a pitch which did not look firm. The overcast condition might have also persuaded the Indian skipper to bowl first.

But instead of the fast bowlers, it was Ravichandran Ashwin who vindicated Kohli's decision as he trapped Stiaan van Zyl in front of the wicket for 10 runs. Three balls later, the off-spinner picked up the dangerous Faf du Plessis as Cheteshwar Pujara grabbed a brilliant catch at short leg.

South Africa were struggling at 15/2 for two, and to make matters worse, Varun Aaron was complementing Ashwin with a brilliant spell of fast bowling at the other end. The 26-year-old was consistently hitting speeds of 145 kph and dismissed Hasim Amla with a stunning delivery. Aaron angled in a delivery from wide of the crease and the ball straightened after pitching on the wicket. Amla played for the angle and missed the ball and it crashed into his off-stump.

The dismissal brought in AB de Villiers, who walked out to bat amidst huge cheers from the crowd. It is hard to remember the last time a foreign cricketer drew such admiration and love from Indian fans.

Just after the lunch break, the Proteas were dealt another big blow as Elgar, while attempting to sweep Jadeja, dragged the ball on to his stumps. With his team struggling at 78/4, de Villiers counter-attacked the Indian bowlers. Every time he was troubled by Indian pace duo of Ishant Sharma and Varun Aaron, he replied with an aggressive stroke of his own.

At the other end, JP Duminy, who returned from an injury lay-off, struggled to handle the Indian spinners and it was not long, before Ashwin picked his wicket with Rahane taking a sharp low catch in first slip.

Despite wickets tumbling around him, de Villiers showed his class and made 85 valuable runs, before Wriddhiman Saha took a stunning catch to dismiss him off Jadeja's bowling. Eventually, the South African innings was wrapped up for 214 runs with Dhawan running out Kyle Abbott for the last wicket.

When India came out to bat, Murali Vijay took strike as he looked to protect the out-of-form Dhawan. The left hander, who has struggled to deal with deliveries outside the off stump in the first Test, continued to be troubled by South African pacers. But this time, he managed to survive the initial scare and scored 45 runs before the end of play.

By the time the umpires called it a day, India had managed to score 80 runs without losing a wicket. The openers had provided them with a sound start which can be converted into a golden opportunity to take an unassailable lead in this four-match test series.

At the post match conference, Ravichandran Ashwin was all praise for his spin partner Ravindra Jadaja. Despite spinners grabbing eight of the 10 South African wickets, Ashwin insisted that the pitch did not provide enough assist. He said, “I don’t think there was enough on offer for the spinners as we were not beating the bat as often as we have done in Mohali. Jadeja was very, very good in the session after lunch bottling one end up, which precisely was our plan. They played a few false shots. We were conscious at the end that we might go for 50-60 runs in the last 2-3 wickets, but we were pretty aware of what was going to come our way”.

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