Pujara ton punishes Proteas

India

After a seesaw battle on the opening two days, India took total control of the third day of their ongoing Test match against South Africa at the Wanderers, as they were 320 runs ahead with eight wickets to spare.

After a seesaw battle on the opening two days, India took total control of the third day of their ongoing Test match against South Africa at the Wanderers, as they were 320 runs ahead with eight wickets to spare.

At the heart of this crowd-silencing performance lay a splendid knock of 135 not out by Cheteshwar Pujara, who made sure he capitalised on the devastating blow the best attack in world cricket suffered the over before lunch.

The Proteas lost the services of premier pace bowler Morne Morkel just overs after India claimed South Africa's last four first-innings wicket, while conceding just 31 runs in the opening session.

Morkel rolled his ankle fielding in the deep and it was later confirmed that he had suffered a grade one tear, which could result in him missing out on the Boxing Day Test in Durban. He bowled only two overs in the second innings.

Whether Morkel would have made a lasting impression on the day is, however, up for debate, as there appeared to be no stopping this Indian onslaught.

Pujara, in particular, played one of the best innings the Wanderers faithful had ever witnessed as he initially proceeded with great caution – on a wicket that can be described as a seaming dream – before accelerating once no trace of shine could be found on the ball.

Credit also has to go to Murali Vijay, who occupied the crease for more than two hours before he was caught chasing a Jacques Kallis delivery on the leg-side for 39.

While Pujara was run out on 25 by Virat Kohli in the first innings, his colleague made no such blunder the second time around as the pair put together an unbeaten 191 runs for the third wicket.

Earlier, Lady Luck had also smiled on Pujara as he was dropped on 51 by spinner Imran Tahir off his own bowling. As was the case in the first innings, Tahir struggled to find his groove.

He had a torrid time landing the ball on the cracked surface, but with that said, he only went for nine runs in his first spell. Tahir's first spell consisted of six deliveries.

Down a fast bowler and out of options, Proteas skipper Graeme Smith took a gamble by throwing the ball to wicketkeeper AB de Villiers, who bowled the final over before tea.

This saw Hashim Amla take the gloves and raised the question why Smith did not turn to JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis or even himself instead of his regular 'keeper.

Pujara and Kohli never blinked after the interval and continued to punish every single bad ball they were offered. Eventually Duminy was introduced into the attack, but he to could only watch as the in-form batsmen sent it to all corners of the ground.

What should be most concerning for the South African squad is that world number one Dale Steyn failed to claim a scalp in the 21 overs he bowled. Steyn has one to show for the match so far.

<i>Michael Mentz at the Wanderers</i>

Latest