Hall is SA's hero with the bat

Andrew Hall’s unbeaten knock of 78 helped South Africa make a fine start in their two-Test series against India at the Green Park Stadium in Kanpur on Saturday.

The 29-year-old struck a defiant third Test half-century in his new role of opener as South Africa scored 230-4 on the opening day of the first Test. Boeta Dippenaar (46) was the other not-out batsman.

South Africa were not troubled much by the Indian slow-bowlers, except for experienced leg-spinner Anil Kumble, who bagged four wickets in two bursts of two scalps each.

Hall, a pace-bowler who usually bats way down the order in Tests, defied the attack throughout the day, hitting nine fours off 274 deliveries.

He was involved in three useful partnerships after South Africa elected to bat on a pitch expected to aid spin bowling as the match progresses.

Hall added 61 runs for the opening stand with skipper Graeme Smith (37), 85 for the third with Jacques Kallis (37) and 76 for the unbroken fifth wicket with Dippenaar.

Hall curtailed his strokes and was also lucky to get away with a chance on 55 when Kumble dropped him at mid-wicket off off-spinner Harbhajan Singh but showed a lot of grit in his knock.

“Hall showed tremendous discipline, and considering that he is basically a stroke player, his innings showed his commitment to the team’s cause,” said Smith.

“It was a good toss to win as batting first is always an advantage on the sub-continent but I am impressed at the way our batsmen batted,” added the 23-year-old.

“Putting Hall up the order was a risk that paid off. Now we hope to build up a big first-innings total and put India under pressure,” he said.

“Their spinners bowled tight but Kumble was the only one who really troubled us,” said Smith.

Kumble came up with timely wickets but failed to get support.

He dismissed Kallis and Jacques Rudolph off successive deliveries just as the visiting side seemed to have got over an earlier twin-strike by the same bowler.

Kumble trapped Kallis leg before wicket with the fifth delivery of his 19th over and bowled left-hander Rudolph with the next after Hall and Kallis had steadied the ship with their useful stand.

Kallis played confidently during his cameo and became the second South African batsman after Gary Kirsten to cross 6 000 runs in Test cricket.

Kumble also grabbed two quick wickets earlier in the day when he bowled Smith (37) and trapped Martin van Jaarsveld (two) leg before wicket in the space of eight deliveries to reduce them to 69-2.

India went in with three spinners—Kumble, Harbhajan and Murali Kartik were the slow-bowlers in the side with Zaheer Khan the lone paceman.

All-rounder Zander de Bruyn and wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile made their Test debuts for South Africa.

The second and final Test will be held in Calcutta from November 28.—Sapa-AFP

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