India unfazed by huge SA challenge

India made a confident reply to South Africa’s record 540 in the first cricket Test, reaching 82 without loss by stumps on the second day on Thursday.


Virender Sehwag smashed a typically aggressive 52 and Wasim Jaffer chipped in with 25 as the Indian openers emerged unscathed from the 21 overs they faced before close.


Both batsmen played freely, striking a six each over the slips off pace bowler Makhaya Ntini to the delight of 14 000 home fans at the Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.


India will resume on Friday with their first target being to reach the 341 that will save them the embarrassment of a follow-on in the first match of the three-Test series.


Hashim Amla hit 159 to lift South Africa to their highest total in India, surpassing the 510-9 declared at Kanpur on their previous tour in 2004.


The Proteas, who began the day at 304-4, nearly doubled their score despite a slow over rate of 13 an hour by the Indian bowlers to check the flow of runs on the unresponsive wicket.


The 24-year-old Amla hit 20 fours in his fourth Test century, but fell short of his career-best 176 not out against New Zealand in Johannesburg last year.


Amla’s seven-hour vigil on the slow wicket ended in a run-out midway through the afternoon session, but there was no respite for the tired Indian attack as Mark Boucher hit 70.


Boucher, who survived a loud shout for leg-before against Shanthakumaran Sreesanth when he was on 10, put on 99 for the sixth wicket with Amla.


Morne Morkel also joined in the fun, stroking seven boundaries in his 35 during a seventh-wicket stand of 54 with Boucher.


Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh picked up the last three tail-enders to earn himself a five-wicket haul, but at a cost of 164 runs from 44.5 overs.


Spin partner Anil Kumble, the Indian captain, took 2-106 while left-arm seamer Rudra Pratap Singh’s 23 wicketless overs cost 111 runs.


Sreesanth was the fourth bowler to concede more than 100 runs, finishing with 1-104 on the slow pitch that offered no assistance to the bowlers.


Amla, who was on 85 overnight, reached his hundred half-an-hour after the start of the day’s play with the last of his three cover-driven boundaries in one over from seamer Sreesanth.


Amla and his overnight partner, AB de Villiers, hammered 53 in as many minutes, 34 of those runs coming from the rampaging blade of De Villiers.


De Villiers slammed eight boundaries before he edged Sreesanth to wicket-keeper Mahendra Dhoni in the fifth over with the second new ball.


De Villiers contributed a hard-hitting 44 in a 66-run stand for the fifth wicket with Amla.


Kumble was forced to claim the second new ball after the first three overs of the day from the spinners fetched 19 runs, but the runs continued to flow easily from the bat.


The tourists, who were 510-6 at one stage, lost their last four wickets for 30 runs.—AFP


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