South Africa pile agony on Indian bowlers

March 26th, 2008 - 4:44 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Harbhajan Singh
(Lead, At Tea)
By Anand Philar
Chennai, March 26 (IANS) South Africa exploited a perfect batting pitch to their advantage to reach 206 for two at tea on the first day of the first cricket Test against India here Wednesday. The first success for India was the wicket of skipper Graeme Smith whose watchful vigil ended when he drove into the hands of short mid-on fielder V.V.S Laxman off Anil Kumble after making a 93-ball 73 aided by 14 boundaries at the M.A. Chidambaram stadium.

Smith and Neil McKenzie provided South Africa a solid start with their 132-run partnership that laid a foundation for a possible big score.

But Smith’s wicket failed to lift the Indian team as McKenzie and Hashim Amla batted quite competently to heap more misery on the home bowlers.

However, shortly before tea, Harbhajan Singh dismissed McKenzie by having him caught in slips by Dravid for 94 (18 x 4).

The post-lunch session saw the South African batsmen grind the Indian bowling with a judicious mixture of caution and aggression as runs continued to flow at a comfortable pace.

For Indian skipper Kumble, it was a frustrating session although he rotated his rather limited bowling options, but these moves had little or no impact on the proceedings that the South Africans dominated.

McKenzie chose to consolidate his fine start with watchful batting interspersed with aggressive stroke-play, mostly in front of the wicket. With no appreciable movement, he had the luxury of playing through the line.

At the other end, Smith went after Sreesanth who, having changed ends, erred in length and was severely punished. A drive through covers followed by an off-drive and then a cut to backward point fetched the South African southpaw three boundaries in an over before he fell victim to Kumble.

Amla joined McKenzie and the two proceeded to dominate an Indian attack that was restrictive at best while never really troubling the batsmen.

As the South Africans continued to pile up runs, Kumble took himself off and brought on Virender Sehwag, but again to no effect.

Even as the Amla-McKenzie tandem looked certain to remain unseparated to tea, came the breakthrough and almost immediately, Kumble was back in the attack, bowling in harness with Harbhajan.

However, the experienced Kallis and Amla negotiated the few overs left before the teams retired for the tea break.

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