Durban, Dec 26: Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara struck unbeaten half-centuries to take India to a commanding 181 for one on the opening day of the second Test against South Africa, here today. Only 61 overs were possible as bad light brought an early end to the day's proceedings. Tomorrow, match will start 30 minutes early.
Vijay was batting on 91 (201 balls, 17x4) and Pujara was unbeaten on 58 (117 balls, 7x4). Shikhar Dhawan was the batsman out for 29 today. India were looking good to post a big score before bad light stopped play at 3.35 PM local time. There was no chance of further play and it was called off 15 minutes before scheduled close of play (5 PM local time).
At tea, Vijay was batting on 76 off 167 balls with the help of 14 boundaries, while Pujara was unbeaten on 55 off 103 balls during which he found the fence seven times at the end of the post-lunch session.
The duo had put on an unbroken 122-run stand for the second wicket as the visitors took hold of proceedings in the Boxing Day Test.
Resuming India's innings at 76 for one in the post-lunch session, Vijay and Pujara further increased their 35-run partnership for the second wicket, playing with consummate ease.
Despite the sun hiding behind clouds after the break, there was nothing more than a hint of movement on the bouncy pitch for the South African pace battery.
The two batsmen made good use of the conditions, playing watchfully yet at the same time scoring at a decent pace.
India crossed the 100-run mark in the 30th over. The last 10 overs bowled by the Proteas in the post-lunch session had cost 48 runs without producing a wicket.
It was the highlight of the day as run-scoring became easier once the batsmen had got themselves in, something Vijay did with aplomb in the first session as Pujara just carried on his form from the first Test, where he scored 153 in the second innings.
In the 34th over, Vijay brought up a well-deserved half-century after grinding his way at Johannesburg without scoring too many runs.
It was his fourth fifty in 20 Tests, coming off 102 balls, with 11 fours. Notably, he scored at a much better clip than the previous match, outlining the nature of the pitch.
Jacques Kallis (0-23) and Morne Morkel (1-25) bent their backs in the middle phase of the session, trying to get some purchase out of the wicket.
But they only had disappointment in store as India raked up 60 runs in the 13 overs bowled in the first hour after lunch.
India captain MS Dhoni won the toss and elected to bat first against South Africa. At lunch, India were 76/1.
India made one change from the previous Test. Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja replaced offspinner R Ashwin.
South Africa too replaced their spinner in last Test - Imran Tahir with Robin Peterson. Morne Morkel, who had injured his ankle in the second innings of the first Test, is fit and is playing here.
The first Test in Johannesburg ended in a thrilling draw after South Africa were set a target of 458.
With centuries from AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis, the home team came very close to registering a win with a world record chase but fell 8 runs short.
All-rounder Jacques Kallis is playing his last Test here. Yesterday, he announced that he will retire from five-day cricket after this Test.
South Africa: Graeme Smith (captain), Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers (wicketkeeper), JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Robin Peterson, Morne Morkel.
India: MS Dhoni (captain, wicketkeeper), Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami.