Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara: Steyn removers

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Jo’burg centurion Cheteshwar Pujara remained a thorn in South Africa's foot with an unbeaten 58 on Day One in Durban (AP) Jo’burg centurion Cheteshwar Pujara remained a thorn in South Africa's foot with an unbeaten 58 on Day One in Durban (AP)
SummaryUnbeaten stand ensures Steyn remains wicketless for 68 overs in series.

Vijay, who finished the day unbeaten on 91, for company. Dhawan did deal a bit of pain himself in the early going with a couple of fiercely hit boundaries. But a majority of the damage though was done by his right-handed opening partner.

If Vijay was a symbol of resistance and dogged defence in Jo’burg, he seemed slightly more of an extrovert at Kingsmead. The line bowled to him by the South Africans was a different one. In the first Test, he had tired them out by leaving anything outside his off-stump with discipline. Here, they bowled a lot straighter to him and probably a tad fuller too. And the classy bat made the most of it.

Trademark punch

Like Pujara’s trademark square-cut, Vijay employs the elegant push back down the ground. It’s not quite a drive; more like a check-shot but one that when connected goes flying to the fence. He began the day with one such shot off Steyn. Then he was away.

While Steyn caused little issue to the Indian batsmen, Vernon Philander did start off well with the new-ball. He got the ball to seam around briefly, but by now the Indian batsmen seemed to have gotten immune to his testing line. They shouldered arms with more confidence, frustrating Philander even further and forcing him to probe for potential wickets in other areas. It only provided the visitors with more scoring options, Vijay in particular.

Philander was tiring too, and Vijay hit him for two boundaries in his ninth over. The first was a drive on the up, before he dished out an eye-popping cover-drive off the backfoot, riding the bounce with ease. Those boundaries took Vijay past the 40-run mark. By now, he was in command. Two overs later it was Steyn who suffered as Vijay leaned into a full delivery and thrashed it through the off-side.

At the other end, Pujara was doing what he does best, grinding the South African bowling attack, one piece at a time. He was steadfast in his defence, but also punishing off every ball that drifted onto his pads — especially against Steyn. As the partnership progressed and scurried past 100, SA were only waiting for a wicket without any conviction.

Steyn returned for his final spell off the day just before the tea-break. By now the ball was scuffed up, and there was reverse swing in the air. He did get a couple

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