Advantage Proteas as India struggle at 168/7

Mohali: Part time spinner Dean Elgar wreaked havoc on the Indian batting order as the South Africans clinched four more wickets in the second session to make the home side totter at 168/7 at tea on the first day of the first cricket Test being played at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium here on Thursday.

Resuming play at 82/3, India added 86 more runs in the session in 28 overs but not before losing Ajinkya Rahane (15), Wriddhiman Saha (0), Murali Vijay (75) and Amit Mishra (6).

Slow left-armer Elgar, who till now had taken only six wickets in his 17-Test career, proved to be the game changer as the tweaker clinched 4/22 in the eight overs he bowled. Apart from Elgar, off-spinner Simon Harmer (1/51) was the only other bowler to take a wicket in the afternoon session.

Rahane and Vijay were trying to steady India’s ship after a difficult morning but the former drove an asking delivery from Elgar only to be caught by South Africa captain Hashim Amla at slip.

Elgar’s next delivery produced another scalp when wicketkeeper-batsman Saha got out in exactly the same fashion, to be caught by Amla at the same spot for a first-ball golden duck. By now India had been reduced to 102/5.

All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja (26 not out) struck a few boundaries to strike a 38-run sixth-wicket partnership with Vijay. Vijay had played brilliantly till now but was found leg before wicket by Harmer, only to put India in deeper waters.

Mishra only lasted a few overs before lofting it to Dale Steyn at mid-on.

Ravichandran Ashwin was also on his way back for leg before but, after TV referrals, the umpire found pacer Kagiso Rabada had over-stepped the line.

Earlier in the morning, it wasn’t the start India captain Virat Kohli had hoped for after opting to bat as the visitors clinched three wickets. In the 27 overs bowled in the morning, India only managed to score 82 runs but gave away three wickets — opener Shikhar Dhawan (0), Cheteshwar Pujara (31) and Kohli (1).

Pacers Vernon Philander, Rabada and Elgar were among the wickets.

Southpaw Dhawan was the first to go, for a duck, on the 10th ball of the innings as a back of the length delivery from Philander was edged straight to Amla, who gladly accepted the catch with India yet to get off the mark.

Thereon, Pujara and opener Vijay appeared to steady the innings, striking a 63-run second-wicket partnership. Pujara also struck six fluid boundaries but just when it was looking that the duo would build on it, the Saurashtra batsman was found leg before wicket by newly introduced Elgar.

It took the South Africans just four more deliveries to clinch another wicket when they dismissed Kohli for 1. The skipper, who turns 27 today, did not have a great birthday as he could not time the ball which went straight to cover only to be caught by Elgar.