India make disastrous start to second Test

April 3rd, 2008 - 1:49 pm ICT by admin  

(Lunch report)
By Avishek Roy
Ahmedabad, April 3 (IANS) India made a disastrous start to the second Test Thursday after a furious spell of fast bowling by the South Africans saw the hosts’ first innings end in a catastrophic 76 runs in just 20 overs. Dale Steyn (5-23), Makhya Ntini (3-18), and Morne Morkel (2-20) unleashed a fury that cracked open the famed Indian batting line-up - minus Sachin Tendulkar - and gobbled them up in just 109 minutes, well before lunch.

Even before the Indian top-order could blink, it was back in the pavilion within 45 minutes and the tail was trying to survive the torrid morning at the Sardar Patel (Gujarat) Stadium in Motera, near here. Only two batsmen - Irfan Pathan (21) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (14) - managed double-digit scores.

Before lunch, South Africa played out one over from Sreesanth and scored one run. Skipper Grame Smith (1) and Neil Mckenzie (0) were at the crease when curtains were drawn on a nightmarish first session for India.

The much talked about Motera pitch turned out to be a perfect strip for the visitors who exploited the early moisture and bounce to the hilt and ripped the Indian batting apart.

Earlier, India decided to field all-rounder Irfan Pathan in place of an injured Tendulkar.

Skipper Anil Kumble won the toss but Smith must have be the happiest person on earth to hear that his pacers would get first strike on the pitch. The even spread of green on the wicket provided enough ammunition to the Proteas, packed with three quality pacers. They responded with aplomb.

Kumble’s decision to bat first on this turf will be hotly debated. That he was upset with pitch was very visible Wednesday, and few thought he would elect to bat after winning the toss.

It was quite a contrast to the first drawn Test in Chennai where the lifeless track had nothing for the bowlers and wickets were hard to come by.

Here, the ball did seam and dart around, but the lack of application on the part of the Indian batsmen was also starkly evident.

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