India won the toss and chose to bat 1st. MS Dhoni said that it looked like a good wicket. The important thing for him was that the batsmen gave themselves some time and got themselves set. India went in with three seamers and a spinner as Ajinkya Rahane and Zaheer Khan came into the XI. He insisted the changing-room atmosphere was good, and it needed to be so whether they won or lost. Graeme Smith wanted to bat as well, but he was hopeful that his bowlers could execute their plans well and lay down a marker at the start of the tour. The pitch looked a little dry to him and he thought there could be some cracks coming into play as the match weared on. He was looking forward to South Africa getting some rhythm after a few stop-start tours. 

Vijay opened his and India's account by hitting a lovely punch down the ground of an overpitched ball which was on the middle stump, Steyn striving to get the ball to move away, but that was too full and eased between the bowler and mid-on for four. The 1st wicket for the Proteas came on the last ball of the 9th over in the form of Dhawan (S Dhawan c Imran Tahir b Steyn 13 runs). The short-ball tactic worked for Dale Steyn. Dhawan went for the pull and he could't middle it, a bit of a top edge as the ball looped towards fine leg, where Tahir snapped it up rather easily. In came Pujara on whom all the onus lied to save India from yet another collapse on this tour of South Africa. Vijay's (M Vijay c †de Villiers b Morkel 6 runs) solid and calm stay ended as his patience to leave balls finished. Morkel bowled a full length ball just outside off stump, Vijay had been letting those go mostly, but he reverted back to old habits of fishing at the ball with no feet, giving Straight forward nick to the keeper. This meant the arrival of India's new no. 4, Virat Kohli with the scoreboard reading 24/2. Kohli raced to his half century in 76 balls with 9 classy fours. Pujara's (CA Pujara run out 25 runs) watchful stay at the crease ended in a most unlikely manner. Kohli sold him down the river and he knowed it. It was a length ball on middle and the batsman tucked it gently towards midwicket and called for the single and took a couple of steps down the pitch before he changed his mind. By that time Pujara had motored his way past the half-way mark and despite Tahir's overly excited throw, the stumps were broken with Pujara nowhere in the frame. Rohit Sharma walked in, with India at 113/3. Sharma (RG Sharma c †de Villiers b Philander 14 runs) lost his patience in the 54th over after a patient innings till then and once again threw away his wicket at a crucial time taking India to 150/4. In came Rahane hitting a magnificent shot to the ropes on the 3rd ball he faced off the bowling of Vernon Philander. Kohli brough up his centrury in the 63rd over of 140 balls only. It was a huge innings for Kohli, he also became the 8th Indian to score a century in South Africa and just the 3rd to score one in Johannesburg. Kallis got Kohli (V Kohli c Duminy b Kallis 119 runs) after some time and this decimated India to 219/5. Kohli was absolutely gutted as he drived the ball straight to Duminy, who wasn't entirely sure if that was out. "Catch," he asked. So against the run of play was that dismissal. It seemed to be a slower ball and Kohli was onto his drive a little too early and the ball simply lobbed to cover. There was warm applause for Kohli from the Indian dressing room as MS Dhoni walked out to the middle. Dhoni and Rahane saw the rest of the overs through and India ended the day at 255/5 with Rahane not out at 43, 7 runs away froma well deserved half-century and Dhoni not out at 17 at the other end.

Hopefully we have a day as competitive as this one tomorrow.
9/12/2022 11:18:07 pm

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