1st Test, Day 3: Cheteshwar Pujara's ton helps India lead SA by 320 runs

Cheteshwar Pujara (135*) and Virat Kohli (77*) put on 191 for the third wicket to help India mount a 320-run lead with eight wickets and two days left.

Updated: December 21, 2013 01:02 IST
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Johannesburg: India took complete charge of the opening Test against South Africa on Friday by bullying the top-ranked team's diminished pace attack for a 320-run lead at stumps on the third day at the Wanderers. (Match Scorecard | Highlights)

India was 284-2 at the close after South Africa, already struggling and behind, lost fast bowler Morne Morkel to an ankle injury early in the Indians' second innings. (Day 3 in pics)

First-innings century-maker Virat Kohli was 77 not out and Cheteshwar Pujara unbeaten on 135 to give India a convincing advantage with two days to play after South Africa was bowled out for 244 at the start of three sessions of surprisingly one-sided dominance by the tourists. (Read: Pujara justifies 'emerging player' tag)

Kohli and Pujara added 175 runs off 38 overs in the final session to underline India's superb day. (Day 3 stats: Pujara scores first hundred on foreign soil)

In the field, South Africa was so desperate at one point that wicketkeeper AB de Villiers bowled an over and batsman Hashim Amla stood in behind the stumps. No. 2 India can't overtake South Africa in the rankings over the brief two-Test contest, but can lay down a marker by ending the Proteas' 13-series unbeaten run stretching back to 2009. (Morne Morkel suffers grade 1 ankle strain, unlikely to play second Test)

With a 36-run first-innings advantage, India forged further ahead with Pujara's calculated century, his sixth in just 16 Tests. His 70-run partnership with Murali Vijay and unbroken stand of 191 with Kohli also finally put clear daylight between the world's two best teams after both collapsed in clutches in the first innings. (Vernon Philander becomes fastest South African to reach 100 wickets)

With Pujara unbeaten and Kohli looking in especially ominous form, India was also aiming to continue its dominance through Saturday as the South African attack, exacerbated by Morkel's absence, looked suddenly tamer than it has in years on a track made for its pacemen. (We bowled as a unit: Ishant)

De Villiers' over before tea, his first bowling in Tests since 2006, provided India with five easy runs, yet Pujara and Kohli were equally comfortable against the front-line seam of Dale Steyn, wicket-less in the second innings so far, and Vernon Philander.

The Indians were already in position to take a telling early lead after efficiently removing South Africa's tail quickly in the morning to keep them to just 244 all out in the first innings. Seamers Ishant Sharma and Zaheer Khan took four wickets each as South Africa fell away to lose its last four wickets for 31 runs in less than 10 overs in the morning.

Sharma took 4-79 and Khan returned from a yearlong absence from Test cricket to take an impressive 4-88.

Only Philander resisted after skipper Graeme Smith's half-century on Thursday. Philander was out for 59 early on Friday, however, and Khan wrapped up the innings with three of the four wickets to fall on the third morning.

Philander and Faf du Plessis, who made a grinding 20 from 77 balls, still saved South Africa from a far worse fate after it was reduced to 146-6 in a mid-innings burst by Sharma late on the second day. Philander, the tailender who took charge of the late partnership, hit seven fours in all to lift his struggling side, including two off the first over of the third day.

Philander also had South Africa's breakthrough at the start of India's second innings when opener Shikhar Dhawan edged to slip, earning Philander his 100th Test wicket in his 19th match, the fastest to that mark for a South African. Steyn, the previous record-holder, took 20 Tests. Kallis then edged out Vijay for 39 with a leg-side delivery, only for Pujara and Kohli to keep the Indians intact and rolling on.

South Africa's tough task of finding a way back into the series-opener was made much harder when Morkel tumbled awkwardly and twisted his right ankle while fielding just before lunch. He was helped off by two teammates after being treated on the ground and won't be able to bowl again in the match, South Africa's team management said.

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