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Indian Openers provide a fitting reply to SA’s 540

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India has started its reply to South Africa’s mammoth 540 with a bang. The two opening batsmen – Virender Sehwag and Wasim Jaffer showed no nerves at all despite their team facing an uphill task. Sehwag smashed a rapid half century in the 21 overs that were bowled at the Indians before stumps on the second day. India raced away to 82 without losing any wickets to the firepower of Dale Steyn, Makhaya Ntini and the tall Morne Morkel.

Most part of the second day was about the Indians sweating it out under the hot sun without any success. South Africa put on partnerships after partnerships to take away all the interest of the Indian fielders in the match. Hashim Amla, who had resumed on 85 this morning, went onto register his 4th Test Match hundred. He along with AB de Villiers got South Africa in the comfort zone of 400+ in just the first 30 minutes of play. No bowler looked good at all in taking a single wicket. It was only when AB de Villiers had lost concentration that the Indians could finally have a sigh of relief. AB de Villiers by then had a roller coaster ride with 8 boundaries in his innings of 44 which came in just 58 balls. Sreesanth was the man breaking this 66-run stand when he got a perfect outswinger to produce the outside edge while Dhoni took a neat low catch towards his right.

At lunch, SA were nicely poised for a total that would take India’s interest in the match. They got to 404 for 5 in 113 overs with Amla still unconquered on 124 and the experienced Boucher getting 26. After lunch, Amla brought up his 150 and just when he was becoming invincible, came a mistake that finally ended his stay in the middle which lasted close to 7 hours! Amla was run out after being sent back by Boucher after the pair had a mix-up about a single. Amla made 159 from 262 balls with the help of 20 fours. By Tea, South Africa got past the 500-run mark with Boucher getting past his half century.

India wrapped up the South African innings in the final session as the tourists tried to get some quick runs. Boucher was the first to depart after making 70 (from 146 balls with 9 fours). Morne Morkel contributed 35 (from 54 balls with 7 fours) to help South Africa stretch their total to 540. The innings came to an end in the 153rd over when Steyn holed out in the deep to give a fifer for Harbhajan (44.5-4-164-5).

After the innings break, Sehwag and Jaffer came out and proved that the pitch was indeed very flat. However, the South African pace attack looked a lot potent than India’s. Morne Morkel because of his extra height was getting the bounce and carry. In the 21 overs of batting, Sehwag and Jaffer both cut loose. Both the batsmen had struck a six each over third man with the upper cut. Jaffer batted freely without any inhibitions to score 25 from 65 balls with 2 fours and a six while Sehwag had got his 51 in just 61 balls with 6 fours and a six.

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