South Africa’s pace attack made optimum use of bowler-friendly conditions to dismiss India for just 76 runs before lunch on the opening day of the second Test on Thursday.
Spearhead Dale Steyn finished with five wickets after Makhaya Ntini claimed three victims in 12 deliveries to rip through India’s top order after the hosts won the toss and opted to bat.
Morne Morkel took two wickets as the middle-order crumbled in the absence of talismanic batsman Sachin Tendulkar, who missed the game due to a groin injury.
The visitors were 1-0 at lunch after the hosts were dismissed for their second-lowest home total and for just 10 more runs than their worst tally against South Africa, in Durban 12 years ago.
All-rounder Irfan Pathan, who replaced Tendulkar, top scored with 21 not out on a greenish batting surface with good bounce.
Ntini dismissed Wasim Jaffer for nine, Vangipurappu Laxman for three and Saurav Ganguly for a duck to leave India reeling at 30-4 inside the first hour.
In between Ntini’s onslaught, the 24-year-old Steyn had dismissed first-Test triple centurion Virender Sehwag for six, the opener playing on while driving away from his body.
Hailed as one of the sharpest bowlers in contemporary cricket, Steyn later dismissed batting mainstay Rahul Dravid with the first ball of his second spell before cleaning up the tail.
Dravid, who scored a century in the drawn first Test, was bowled, ending any hopes the hosts harboured of launching a recovery.
South Africa wasted little time in setting about their task, Jaffer caught at slip by visiting captain Graeme Smith while Laxman was bowled by a delivery that swung in sharply to clip the bail as the batsman was shouldering arms.
Ganguly then played on to the second delivery he faced.
Morkel struck twice in three balls when he removed Mahendra Dhoni for 14 and skipper Anil Kumble for a duck.
India’s capitulation in exactly 20 overs came in marked contrast to the batting paradise both sides enjoyed in last week’s opening Test in Chennai, which ended in a high-scoring draw.
The third and final Test of the series in Kanpur starts on April 11. — Reuters