Pain with no gain as In­dia bash Proteas

Morkel in­jury weak­ens bowl­ing, In­dian pair take full ad­van­tage

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - STUART HESS

ing a lovely catch at sec­ond slip div­ing to his right.

The in­jury be­fell Morné Morkel, who was sprint­ing around the bound­ary and twisted his right an­kle. He had to be helped from the field with an MRI scan con­firm­ing a “Grade 1 an­kle sprain.”

Morkel won’t bowl again ac­cord­ing to team man­ager Mo­hammed Moosajee, but will bat “if ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary”.

“The re­cov­ery pe­riod is usu­ally 7-10 days and he is doubt­ful for the sec­ond Test start­ing in Dur­ban in less than a week’s time,” Moosajee added.

Morkel’s ab­sence had an enor­mous im­pact for the re­main­der of the day. Mu­rali Vi­jay and Chetesh­war Pu­jara con­tin­ued their watch­ful ap­proach, as balls out­side off­s­tump were left well alone, and when the South Africans did straighten their lines, they were clipped through the leg­side. That sec­ond wicket part­ner­ship added 70 in two hours and though ended by a poor er­ror from Vi­jay, it pro­vided the foun­da­tion from which In­dia were able to take the game away from South Africa.

Pu­jara was sub­lime. He may not like the com­par­isons with Rahul Dravid, but watch­ing him bat yes­ter­day, one couldn’t help but agree with those ob­ser­va­tions. A fea­ture of his play in both in­nings’ in this match was how well he left the ball.

It’s a sort of ‘ throw-back’ ver­sion of bat­ting. Watch, leave, watch, leave, hour af­ter hour and wait for the bowler to de­liver the ball where you want him to, or to tire.

The post-tea ses­sions over the last two days have be­longed to In­dia – on Thurs­day, their bowlers in­flicted that aw­ful col­lapse of 16/5 in 39 balls. Yes­ter­day Pu­jara and Kohli bat­ted In­dia into a po­si­tion of su­pe­ri­or­ity.

They’re both el­e­gant play­ers – Pu­jara scored all around the wicket, pro­duc­ing some el­e­gant drives through the cover re­gion, while tak­ing ad­van­tage when the South Africans bowled on his legs to nudge the ball through mid-wicket.

The care he dis­played early in his in­nings was re­placed by more flam­boy­ance later, as the bowlers, with the ex­cep­tion of Phi­lan­der, wilted.

Dale Steyn was strangely flat. He was un­able to find a way to ef­fec­tively put the In­di­ans un­der pres­sure as they chose to leave the ball, and over-used the bouncer again – wick­ets in this match have come when the ball’s been pitched up.

The spin­ners were dread­ful. It’s one thing to be hit off your length, it’s quite another to serve up help­ings of full tosses as Imran Tahir did yes­ter­day, or half-track­ers.

JP Du­miny and Tahir con­ceded 97 runs from 22 overs, their fail­ure to keep a lid on the run rate fur­ther un­der­scor­ing how much the South Africans missed Morkel.

By the end Pu­jara – ‘The New Wall’ – and Kohli’s part­ner­ship was 191 and they were mak­ing the Wan­der­ers look more like the Wankhede.

GALLO IM­AGES

PROTEAS PUN­ISHED: Chetesh­war Pu­jara, right, cel­e­brates his 100 for In­dia at the Wan­der­ers. He went on to score 135 not out, shar­ing an un­bro­ken stand of 191 with bat­ting part­ner Vi­rat Kohli.

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