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India's batsmen dominate
02 Jan 2007
By: Alex Crampton

India have made the crucial early running today, a series victory against South Africa is now not quite so far away.

They racked up 254-3 on a pitch seemingly perfect for their batting line up. Both sides had made changes. The South Africans welcomed back a Jacques Kallis fit to bat and bowl, and gave a debut to Paul Harris. They were forced to leave out Andre Nel, due to a bruised ankle. India were expected to bring Gautam Gambhir in for Virender Sehwag, but surprised the South Africans by opening with wicket keeper Dinesh Karthik. Karthik himself was replaced Mahendra Dhoni, absent with a chest infection in addition to his bruised fingers.

The new openers fared extremely well. Both possessing solid techniques, they were not severely tested by the South African bowlers, who were unable to find much movement in the air or off the pitch.

The two differed in their approach; Karthik was compact and defensive, while Jaffer played some expansive back foot strokes. The wicket keeper has had little experience of opening the batting before, and adapted well in the circumstances. He was dropped on 32 by Graeme Smith, but managed to complete his second Test half century. Paul Harris eventually removed him for his first Test scalp, but replays showed it was another incorrect decision from Asad Rauf.

Jaffer though, reached his third Test century. He pulled and drove gloriously, able to use his wrists well on a placid surface. He came close to batting through the day, but fell to Dale Steyn with the new ball. The only other Indian wicket to fall was Rahul Dravid, caught behind after an excellent spell from Shaun Pollock.

Though they came back well, it was a hard day in the field for South Africa. Harris toiled away on debut for a solitary wicket in 24 overs, while the seamers took just two in their 66. The home side will be hoping for an Indian collapse tomorrow, but Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman, who are not overnight, may very well have other ideas.

India 254-3
Wasim Jaffer 116, Dinesh Karthik 63

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