Four for Morkel as Proteas leave India reeling

CENTURION, South Africa, (Reuters) – South Africa’s  Morne Morkel claimed four for 20 as he and Dale Steyn tore  through India to leave the top-ranked nation 136 for nine at the  end of the first day of the first test yesterday.  

India were not up to the challenge after being sent in to  bat on a lively Centurion pitch.  
After inching their way to 55 for three at tea, the tourists  lost six wickets for 81 runs in the final session of a day  reduced to 38.1 overs by bad weather.  

Steyn, the world’s number one bowler, finished with 3-34  from 10 overs. 
He sparked the collapse after tea when he bowled VVS Laxman  for seven with a trademark late away-swinger.  

Suresh Raina (1) was caught in the slips off Jacques Kallis  five balls later and Steyn then snared the crucial wicket of  Sachin Tendulkar, trapping him leg-before for 36 as India found  themselves on 71 for six. 

India captain MS Dhoni gritted it out until the close to  reach 33 not out, while Harbhajan Singh, who spent most of his  time outside leg stump against the quick bowlers, scored a  cavalier 27 before being caught short of his ground as  wicketkeeper Mark Boucher threw down the stumps unsighted,  flicking the ball between his legs.  

Morkel then returned to the attack and had Ishant Sharma  caught in the slips and Shanthakumaran Sreesanth at mid-off,  both tailenders failing to score.  

Debutant Jaidev Unadkat was at the crease on one not out  when bad light stopped play in what would have been the final  over of the day.  

Dhoni and Harbhajan hit three sixes between them as India  counter-attacked against South Africa’s third seamer, Lonwabo  Tsotsobe, who conceded 50 runs in nine overs.  

Morkel, the six-foot-five paceman, flummoxed the Indian  batsmen in his 12.1 overs with a mix of short-pitched balls and  fuller-length deliveries that moved off the seam.  

“It’s most important for a fast bowler that you don’t forget  your aggression — give the batsmen a bit of chin music, as they  say, and it was nice to see the ball fly through,” he told  reporters.  

“For the batsmen, all the build-up about how the pitch will  play is in the back of the mind and they’re not sure whether to  play back or forward. We were able to find the right lengths to  create that doubt. 

“My strength is using my bounce. I don’t get a lot of swing,  but I also tried to bowl back-of-a-length and the batsmen were  tentative, not knowing whether to play back or come forward.”

The start of play was held up until 10 minutes before the  scheduled tea break due to heavy morning rain. South African  captain Graeme Smith won the toss and elected to bowl first.
  
Indian opener Virender Sehwag fell for a duck in the third  over of the day as an outlandish swish outside off stump at  Steyn was edged to third man, where Hashim Amla was perfectly  positioned to take the catch. 
 
“It was a very nice feeling to get Sehwag out early because  he is a danger man,” Morkel said. “We thought a lot about how to  bowl to him, because he has hurt us in the past and can quickly  take the game away from you. 
 
“We did the job up front with the new ball and luckily  Sehwag gave it away. We definitely had a plan set for him, we  knew if we were patient and hit the right areas, he would give  it away.”  

Gautam Gambhir crawled his way to five runs from 43 balls in  more than an hour before he edged Morkel to first slip. 

The wicket of Rahul Dravid (14) also came before the tea  break, when Morkel trapped him in front with a delivery that  jagged back and kept a shade low.  

South Africa will become number one in the International  Cricket Council test rankings if they win the three-match series  3-0.  

Scoreboard
 India first innings 
 G. Gambhir c Harris b Morkel                                   5  
V. Sehwag c Amla b Steyn                                           0 
R. Dravid lbw b Morkel                                               14  
S. Tendulkar lbw b Steyn                                            36 
V. Laxman b Steyn                                                           7  
S. Raina c Prince b Kallis                                               1 
M. Dhoni not out                                                           33  
Harbhajan Singh run out                                           27 
Ishant Sharma c Kallis b Morkel                               0  
S. Sreesanth c Steyn b Morkel                                    0  
J. Unadkat not out                                                           1 
Extras (lb-6, w-3, nb-3)                                              12 
Total (nine wickets; 38.1 overs)                           136 
Fall of wickets: 1-1 2-24 3-27 4-66 5-67 6-71 7-110 8-110  9-116.  
Bowling: Steyn 10-1-34-3 (w1), Morkel 12.1-5-20-4 (nb3),  Tsotsobe 9-2-50-0 (w1), Kallis 6-1-20-1 (w1), Harris 1-0-6-0.

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