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Pacers put India on top against South Africa

Johannesburg, Dec 20 : Pacers Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma put India on top against South Africa on the third day of the first cricket Test at the Wanderers here Thursday.


India, who grabbed a first innings lead of 36 runs after bowling out South Africa for 244, reached 31/1 at lunch and increased the lead to 67 runs.

Murali Vijay was batting on 12 and Cheteshwar Pujara on four. Shikhar Dhawan (15) was the only wicket to fall as he became Vernon Philander's 100th Test victim caught at second slip by Jacques Kallis.

South Africa, however, suffered a set-back at the stroke of lunch as pacer Morne Morkel twisted his ankle and was helped out of the ground. Dale Steyn had to bowl his remaining four balls before lunch.

But the session completely belonged to India as an inspired performance by the pacers helped them grab a 36-run lead after South Africa were bowled out for 244 in the first innings within the first hour.

Ishant Sharma (4/79) registered his best figures on South African soil and Zaheer Khan (4/88) made a sensational return to international cricket after 12 months as South Africa suffered their second batting collapse. Mohammad Shami got two for 48.

South Africa, who lost five wickets for 16 runs on the second day, suffered another batting collapse in the first innings as, resuming at 213/6, they lost the last four wickets for 31 runs. Overnight batsmen Vernon Philander made 59 and Faf du Plesis made 20.

Philander started the day on a positive note as he got this third half century in Tests with the first ball of the day, driving Ishant through the covers for a four. The third ball also received similar treatment.

However, Philander's knock was ended by Zaheer who pitched it outside the off-stump, short of length, and the edge flew to Ravichandran Ashwin at first slip.

Dale Steyn (10) smacked two consecutive fours off Zaheer but was removed by Ishant, who ducked it short as the South African tried to fend it away but only managed to edge it to Rohit Sharma in the slips.

Zaheer struck again in the next over to dismiss Du Plesis, caught behind by Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Ishant wrapped up the innings with a yorker to castle Morne Morkel.

--IANS (Posted on 20-12-2013)

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