Smith, Amla steady South African innings (Tea Report)

Johannesburg, Dec 19 : South Africa made a steady start and quickly reduced the deficit to just 162 runs at tea against India on the second day of the first cricket Test at the Wanderers here Thursday.

Skipper Graeme Smith was batting on 62 and Hashim Amla on 30 as South Africa reached 118 for one in their first innings at tea. The only wicket to fall in the second session was that of Alviro Petersen (21).

Indian pacer Ishant Sharma struck shortly after the lunch break to get rid of Petersen, who was trapped leg-before the wicket. Petersen's poor run with the bat continued and now he has played 10 innings without a half-century.

Soon after, Zaheer Khan almost had his 'bunny' Smith for the 14th time, as the South African captain got a thick edge but Ravichandran Ashwin messed up an easy catch at first slip. Diving to his left, Ashwin almost had the ball in his palm but it slipped and hit the turf.

Smith and Amla added 81 runs for the unfinished second-wicket stand to take South Africa to tea.

Earlier in the day, fast bowler Vernon Philander ripped through the Indian lower-order as the visitors suffered a batting collapse losing five wickets for 25 runs and their first innings collapsed for 280 runs.

Philander finished as the top-wicket taker with four for 61 as the Indian innings lasted a little over an hour in the first session.

After some inspiring batting by Virat Kohli (119) on the first day, the Indian batsmen had no clue against the South African pacers on the second day.

Resuming the day at 255 for five, overnight batsmen Ajinkya Rahane (47) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (19) struggled against the pacers.

Dhoni was the first to go in the ninth over of the day, as he poked outside the off against Morne Morkel (3/34) and wicketkeeper AB de Villiers took an easy catch.

Philander struck twice in the next over to remove Rahane and Zaheer Khan in successive deliveries but Ishant Sharma denied him a hat-trick.

Rahane also fell in a similar fashion like that of Dhoni, edging to De Villiers while Zaheer was stranded clueless on the backfoot only to be trapped leg-before.

Though Ishant denied Philander a hat-trick, he became his fourth and 99th Test victim with his stumps rattled. Mohammad Shami was Morkel's third victim as the Indian innings folded quickly.

--IANS (Posted on 19-12-2013)

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