New Delhi: Morne Morkel stood out for South Africa on the first day of the third Test match against at Nagpur on Wednesday.
The fast-bowler showed nerves of consistency, variety and accuracy after sending back India's premier batsmen back to the hut. In the end although Morkel ended up bowling only 16.1 overs, he had already handed the visitors crucial grip in the Test match.
Morkel had figures of 16.1-35-7-3 as he hurt India by bowling fuller in the middle-off channel. Murali Vijay, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane fell victims to Morkel's magic. Morkel's ability to reverse swing the ball showed his class on Nagpur wicket that aided to his liking.
Morkel who bowled more shorter to Vijay in the rain-washed Test match in Bengaluru, changed his approach in Nagpur. Vijay almost lost his wicket in the 2nd Test after trying to pull a Morkel short ball only for Imran Tahir to miss a sitter. This time Morkel tied up Vijay and got him LBW after a full-length delivery swung to trap Vijay who missed it.
Kohli was his next victim and the latter looked unsure over his footwork against Morkel who teased him to fish outside the off-stump. Virat who scored just 22 runs fell to Morkel after getting teased outside the off-stump and edging a ball to the wicket-keeper.
Rahane meanwhile looked a bit over-ambitious when he attempted a drive off an in-swinging delivery that brushed his pads to hit the stumps. Morkel had kept bowling out-swingers to Rahane and that set up the Indian batsman perfectly who misread the in-swinging ball.
Morkel's variation was the treat for many as spinners on the other end did most damage. Morkel who shoulders more responsibility in the absence of Dale Steyn, was seen going off the field after feeling something in his leg. He didn't come out to bowl any further.
Most likely it could be a precautionary measure as the Proteas will hope he is ready to bowl fresh when they get out against India in the 2nd innings.