Kohli, Pujara rebuild for India

Kohli, Pujara rebuild for India

With every correct step forward, Virat Kohli seems to take two backwards. While his batting unit is struggling to find its feet against the South African pacemen, he puzzlingly added another quick to his attack even as the hosts included fast-bowling all-rounder in Andile Phelukwayo in place of left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj. And then after winning a rare toss, he strangely opted to bat first on a green top.    

With overhead conditions aiding movement in the air and underfoot conditions assisting lateral movement, the South African pacemen hit the right lengths to leave the tourists at 45 for two in 27 overs when the teams broke for lunch on the opening day of the third and final Test here at the Wanderers stadium on Wednesday.  

Kohli was batting on 24 while Cheteshwar Pujara, who took 54 deliveries to open his account, was on 5 (66 balls) with the duo having added 32 runs for the unbroken third wicket. India would have been in further trouble had Vernon Philander held on to a catch off Kohli when the batsman was on 11. The Indian captain had miscued a pull off Kagiso Rabada but a diving Philander made a mess of the offer at short mid-off.    

In the early part of play, Morne Morkel troubled the Indian openers with his pace and bounce but Vernon Philander, with his ability to swing and seam the ball, was always going to be a bigger threat. KL Rahul received one such delivery that demanded to be played. The ball pitching on the off at good length, shaped in just enough to take an inside edge to en route to Quinton de Kock who dived to his left to take a good catch.

His partner M Vijay once again fell to an uncharacteristic shot, chasing Kagiso Rabada's widish ball that he otherwise would leave nine out of 10 times. With the ball nipping it was always a shot fraught with danger and the right-hander paid the price with a thick edge not getting past the wicketkeeper.            

Brief scores: India: 45/2 in 27 overs (Virat Kohli 24 n.o.) vs South Africa.

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