Live 1st test match: Kohli inches towards century as India reach 164/4 at tea
Virat Kohli was at his fluent best as he stroked his way to an unbeaten 84 guiding India to 164 for four at tea, against South Africa
Johannesburg: Virat Kohli was at his fluent best as he stroked his way to an unbeaten 84 guiding India to 164 for four at tea, against South Africa on the first day of the first cricket Test here today.
Kohli struck 14 boundaries in his 113 ball innings as Indians scored 94 runs in the second session losing two more wickets in Cheteshwar Pujara (25) and Rohit Sharma (14).
Kohli has another youngstar Ajinkya Rahane (12 batting) for company, who started on a positive note hitting three boundaries in the nine deliveries that he faced.
The talented Delhi batsmen looked assured in his strokeplay as he hit boundaries all around the wicket including some cracking pull-shots of the fiery Dale Steyn.
Kohli along with Pujara added 89 runs for the third wicket before a mix-up resulted in the Saurashtra batsman being run-out. Rohit didn’t look fluent during his stay at the wicket and was dismissed trying to drive an outswinger from Vernon Philander.
For South Africa, Steyn (1/36), Philander (1/38) and Morkel (1/18) shared the wickets apart from the run-out.
In the post-lunch session, both Kohli and Pujara showed great skill playing the fast bowling on merit. They appeared confident in leaving the ball and when opportunity presented itself, they scored runs as well. They brought up their 50-run partnership in the 30th over.
Steyn toiled hard for a wicket, but his ploy of mixing short deliveries with full ones was foiled. Morkel, who had troubled the openers in the first session, too couldn’t do much in the second one, even though he bowled economically. Kallis bowled 8 overs without reward as well.
Kohli was the more attacking of the two, putting aside leg-spinner Imran Tahir for special treatment. He hit 23 runs off 18 balls faced from Tahir, inclusive of five boundaries, three of which came after lunch — all hit through deep mid-wicket region.
Tahir gave away 37 runs in six overs. Kohli brought up his eighth half-century in Test cricket off 76 deliveries with nine boundaries.
Together with Pujara, Kohli helped India cross the 100-run mark in the 40th over.
Kohli accelerated quickly in the next couple overs, before a poor call for a non-existent single run cost Pujara his wicket.
Kohli pushed the ball towards mid-wicket and set off, only to return to his crease with Pujara stuck in the middle.
Tahir’s throw found Amla waiting and India lost their third wicket in the 43rd over, at the score of 113. PUjara faced 98 balls for his 25 hitting two boundaries in the process.
Rohit joined Kohli as he regained his composure to carry on his good work. He was evermore watchful, hitting another three boundaries, bringing up the team’s 150 in the 43rd over.
The Kohli-Rohit duo put on 38 runs before the Mumbai batsman was back just a couple overs before tea.
Earlier in the day, India won the toss and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni opted to bat first on what looked like a good track to bat on after the initial help for the fast bowlers.
Steyn and his new ball partner Philander bowled a lot of outswingers in their initial overs, beating the batsmen on couple of occasions, yet not getting that first chance until the 5th over.
Dhawan just jabbed at a short ball, which looped up but there were no close-in fielders. Thereafter, the opening duo seemed to settle down just a tad, pushing and prodding with confidence as they negotiated the first thirty minutes without any loss. India were sedately going along having scored eight runs in the first five overs.
The action began in the ninth over, as Steyn dished out some short stuff to Dhawan. The third ball of the over looped from Dhawan’s bat as he played a half-hearted pull and it went for four runs. The fourth ball, also short, went off the handle and fell short of gully.
The fifth ball, again short, went down legside and the batsman made an attempt to play at it. And then finally on the last ball of the over, Dhawan was out caught fine leg by Imran Tahir, as he mistimed a pull-shot again.
India’s average opening stand since January 2011 has been 15.96 and the poor trend continues.
Morne Morkel was introduced in the 12th over and he was a cause of concern for Vijay. The Tamil Nadu opener edged one to third slip, but playing with soft hands, it didn’t carry
In his next over, Vijay had no clue about a short delivery as it made contact with the bat and looped to forward short leg, falling just short of Hashim Amla’s reach.
It signalled the end of an uncomfortable first hour for India, as they were placed at 24/1. Pujara negotiated the first over after drinks from Jacques Kallis without trouble, but Vijay’s patience finally gave away as he edged a fuller delivery from Morkel trying to play a drive without any footwork.
India’s new No 4, Kohli’s first scoring shot was a beautiful pull off Kallis followed by a little streaky one off Morkel through third man for four.
Pujara, in this interim, was a little more secure. He had fewer moments of doubt against the openers combined. He brought up India’s 50 in the 25th over, with a push to covers, running for a quick single.
He hit two boundaries, the first a delightful cut through point while the second one was cut over the slip cordon as skipper Graeme Smith had just taken off third man.
For the hosts, Steyn (8-1-18-1) and Morkel (6-4-6-1) enjoyed success, picking a wicket each.
India made three changes from their last Test against West Indies in Mumbai, bringing in Ajinkya Rahane for the retired Sachin Tendulkar, Zaheer Khan for Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma for Pragyan Ojha. South Africa has Hashim Amla coming back in place of Dean Elgar.