Morkel, Harmer skit­tle In­dia on dicey pitch

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

NAG­PUR: Morne Morkel and Si­mon Harmer bam­boo­zled In­dia with pace and spin on a tricky wicket but South Africa also suf­fered early blows in the third Test in Nag­pur yes­ter­day. Off-spin­ner Harmer claimed four wick­ets for 78 and fast bowler Morkel took three for 35 as the Proteas bowled In­dia out for 215 in the post-tea ses­sion of the first day’s play.

South Africa, seek­ing a se­ries-lev­el­ling win, had plod­ded to 11 for two by stumps, set­ting the stage for an ex­cit­ing bat­tle ahead on a dusty and dry pitch at the VCA sta­dium. Off-spin­ner Ravichan­dran Ash­win had opener Sti­aan van Zyl caught in the slips for a duck be­fore night­watch­man Im­ran Tahir was bowled by Ravin­dra Jadeja for four.

At stumps Dean El­gar was un­beaten on seven and skip­per Hashim Amla had yet to score. In­dia were re­duced to 125-6 af­ter win­ning the toss, be­fore the last four wick­ets added 90 runs that in­cluded a 48-run stand for the sev­enth wicket be­tween Jadeja (34) and wick­et­keeper Wrid­dhi­man Saha (32). Opener Murali Vi­jay top­scored with 40, but none of the other five spe­cial­ist bats­men crossed 22 on a first-day pitch that al­ready shows cracks and con­tin­ues to de­te­ri­o­rate fast.

Morkel made up for the ab­sence of his un­fit speed part­ner Dale Steyn to negate In­dia’s ini­tial ad­van­tage of bat­ting first, but then him­self limped off the field while bowl­ing his 17th over in the fi­nal ses­sion.

‘Test won’t last five days’

Harmer said he was happy to bowl on a pitch that helps slow bowlers and pre­dicted the Test would be over be­fore the fifth day. “This wicket is not pre­pared to last five days, there is bound to be a re­sult,” the off-spin­ner said.

“In South Africa we pre­pare pitches that suit our type of cricket. So this does not sur­prise us at all. But be­ing a spin­ner, I like bowl­ing on such wick­ets.” In­dia’s bat­ting coach San­jay Ban­gar said it was too soon to pre­dict the out­come.

“This is a chal­leng­ing wicket to score runs on,” said Ban­gar. “This has been a low-scor­ing se­ries, but it is too early to say how this match will go. “There is a lot of time left in the match, so any­thing can hap­pen.” The Proteas, who would have bat­ted had they won the toss, re­moved open­ers Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vi­jay in the morn­ing ses­sion which ended with In­dia on 85 for two.

Dhawan and Vi­jay put on 50 for the first wicket be­fore South Africa hit back to re­move both bats­men in the space of 19 runs. Left-arm spin­ner Dean El­gar took a low re­turn catch to dis­miss Dhawan for 12 be­fore Morkel got rid of the set­tled Vi­jay for 40. Vi­jay smashed Harmer for the first six of the match and also hit three fours be­fore he was trapped plumb in front of the wicket by a full-length de­liv­ery from Morkel.

Chetesh­war Pu­jara, who was un­beaten on 18 at lunch, added just three more af­ter the break be­fore play­ing back to Harmer to be leg-be­fore. Ajinkya Ra­hane brought up In­dia’s 100 with a six off Harmer but his off-stump was sent cartwheel­ing by Morkel when he reached 13. Morkel then had skip­per Vi­rat Kohli caught be­hind by Dane Vi­las for 22 and Harmer had Ro­hit Sharma caught at short-leg for two to leave the hosts reel­ing on 125-6. The tourists, who lost the first Test in Mo­hali be­fore the rain­hit sec­ond game in Ban­ga­lore was drawn, need a win to take the se­ries into the de­cider in New Delhi start­ing De­cem­ber 3.

NAG­PUR: In­dia’s wick­et­keeper Wrid­dhi­man Saha (C) and cap­tain Vi­rat Kohli (R) ap­peal un­suc­cess­fully for a stump­ing against South Africa’s Im­ran Tahir (L) dur­ing play on the first day of the third Test cricket match be­tween In­dia and South Africa at The Vi­darbha Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion Sta­dium in Nag­pur yes­ter­day.

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