India in trouble on day one of second Test

April 3rd, 2008 - 8:07 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Harbhajan Singh
By Avishek Roy
Ahmedabad, April 3 (IANS) The euphoria of India’s audacious trip to Australia faded away as South Africa packed them off for a humiliating 76 runs in the first innings and took a lead of 153 at the end of first day’s play in the second Test here Thursday. By stumps, South Africa had stacked up 223 runs for four wickets, and had taken a vice-like grip over the match. Jacques Kallis (60) and A B de Villiers (59) were the not-out batsmen and were piling the agony on the hosts at the Sardar Patel stadium in Motera here.

For India to come back into the match from here would be Herculean task and would require huge effort and application from the players, which they lacked on the first day.

Skipper Anil Kumble’s decision to bat first backfired as South African pacers made the best out of the tinge of grass and the morning dew to floor the Indians in just 20 overs.

Dale Steyn (5/23), who picked his first five-wicket haul against India, Makhya Nitni (3/18) and Morne Morkel (2/20) were too hot for the famed Indian batting line-up sans Sachin Tendulkar. It was also India’s lowest at home against South Africa. The previous being 113 seven years ago in Mumbai.

But as the day progressed, the wicket turned out to be a perfect strip for the visitors. The openers Greame Smith (34) and Niel Mckenzie (42) buried the spectre of any ghosts in the pitch as they stroked their way to a 78-run stand.

Smith’s wicket was the first to fall, when he was trapped leg before by Sreesanth in the 16th over. But TV replays showed the ball pitched inches outside the leg stump. Smith’s 34 came off 42 balls and included six boundaries while McKenzie’s 73-ball innings included eight boundaries.

In the last over before tea, Mckenize nicked one to Rahul Dravid at first slip off Harbhajan Singh to bring some cheer to the Indian camp. Harbhajan then removed Hashim Amla in the same unfinished over after tea.

Harbhajan also claimed Ashwell Prince to raise hopes of India’s comeback. But Kallis and De Villiers put on 100 runs for the fifth wicket to put South Africa in the driver’s seat.

Kalllis hit five boundaries and one six while De Villiers knock had five hits to the fence.

The South African batsmen showed enough technique contrary to their Indian counterpart.

Even before the Indian top-order could blink, they were back in the pavilion within 45 minutes of the start and the tail was trying to survive the torrid morning. Only Irfan Pathan (21 not out) and Mehendra Singh Dhoni (14) could get into double-digit figures. Four of them went for duck. 9,6,3,3,0, 14, 21, 0, 1, 0, 0 is what the Indian batsmen managed to put up on the scoreboard.

The slide started with opener Wasim Jaffer nicking Ntini to Smith at slips in the 4th over. Steyn then got rid of Chepauk triple-centurion Virender Sehwag (6), who edged one back to his stumps.

V.V.S Laxman and Sourav Ganguly’s stumps were knocked over by Ntini in a space of just three deliveries as India slumped to 4/30 in 7.3 overs.

Dravid (3) and Dhoni tried to stem the rot but it was not to be. The duo added 23 runs before a Steyn beauty ended Dravid’s 26-minute vigil.

Morkel, in his very first over, struck twice. Dhoni, who was dropped off Steyn earlier, played a rash shot and was caught behind by Mark Boucher to leave India at a pathetic 6/55. Morkel then castled Kumble (0). Steyn finished of the good job by polishing off the tail in a typical fast bowler manner to complete his first five-wicket haul against India.

India could have been out for their lowest score ever against South Africa, erasing their earlier worst of 66 at Kingsmead, Durban in 1997. But Irfan Pathan (21 not out) hit three boundaries, two of them off successive balls to Steyn to rescue them.

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