India off to a steady start (Lunch Report)

Durban, Dec 26: India were off to a steady start against South Africa as they made 76 for one at lunch in the first innings on the first day of the Boxing Day Test at the Kingsmead here Thursday.

Both the teams came into this match high on confidence after the first Test at the New Wanderers in Johannesburg ended in an exciting draw, Sunday.

Opening batsman Murali Vijay (33) and Cheteshwar Pujara (13) were unbeaten till the lunch break while Morne Morkel, who made a miraculous recovery to get fit in time for the match, bagged one for 14 in the first session.

The only wicket to fall in the morning session was that of Shikhar Dhawan (29), who was forced to play a full delivery by Morkel and edged to Robin Petersen at third slip.

It was a tough session for the South African pacers as they failed to get any sideways movement with the new ball on a hot day. They pitched the ball up, but Dhawan and Vijay managed to punch them down the ground for fours.

Morkel, who was doubtful for the match after twisting his ankle in the first Test, bowled full steam and hit the deck hard as there was no lateral movement. He was finally rewarded with the wicket of Dhawan.

It was a lapse in concentration that cost Dhawan his wicket. He had made a quickfire 28 off 36 balls before but lost his concentration after a drinks break and nicked the first ball to the slip cordon.

At the other end, Vijay adopted a patient approach after he was beaten several times and was also struck on the box and on the arm.

Earlier, India won the toss and opted to bat against South Africa. India replaced off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin with all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja while South Africa brought in left arm spinner Robin Peterson for leggie Imran Tahir. South African legend Jacques Kallis will retire from Test cricket after this match.

IANS