Morne Morkel recovers from ankle injury in unexpected time, and picks a wicket early too.
Injured, but Morkel is not out
Morne Morkel, the South African speedster, suffered a painful blow on his ankle while fielding during the first Test at Wanderers. Comments from the team manager and visuals from the broadcasters assured he won't be in action for at least 10-14 days. With an ankle swollen like a football, Morkel had other plans. The seamer recovered, and recovered well to be match-fit for the final Test of the two-match series.
Like his recovery, Morkel took very little time to hit the right rhythm in the middle. There were no signs of post-injury tentativeness as he ran in hard, and worked up brisk pace to unsettle the Indian openers, who were comfortable against the duo of Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander. He finally got a reward for some disciplined bowling when he forced Shikhar Dhawan to drive at an away going delivery, which the batsman edged to third-slip.
After the wicket, Morkel had his tail up and worked up serious pace in the middle. He served some effective bouncers and followed them with deliveries full and fast. He was clearly operating with a plan in the mind. In the 23rd over of the innings, he did transfer some of his ankle pain to Murali Vijay when he hit the opener in an awkward spot, the box to be precise. The blows were not only with the red cherry, but with the lips too. Morkel also exchanged some not so pleasant words with the visitors' openers. You can't expect the lanky seamer to ask Vijay whether he is feeling hot on the humid day or Dhawan about his well-curled moustache or the unusual pony tail?
Playing his last Test match, Jacques Kallis generated the loudest cheer of the day when skipper Graeme Smith handed the ball to the all-rounder. There were loud cheers, both happy and sad faces, and some very interesting placards for the finest all-rounder in cricket.
Do South Africa have guts?
This was the message on a placard before the start of the day's play. The spectators are clearly not pleased with the first Test's result, and expect the home side to deliver the knockout blow in this Boxing Day Test.
India won the first bout after winning the toss, and not losing more than one