Bengaluru: Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin produced superb performances with the ball to hand India the advantage on the opening day of the second cricket Test being played at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Saturday.
Jadeja (4-50) and Ashwin (4-70) inflicted the bulk of the damage as the visitors were all out for 214 runs in their first innings.
In reply, openers Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan saw India off to a steady start. The duo showed good composure and technique to bolster the advantage as the hosts signed off on 80/0 at stumps. The Indians now trail the Proteas by 134 runs.
Dhawan had been going through a slump for the past several matches. But the left-hander finally showed some glimpses of his true calibre as he played well against both pacers and spinners. The feet movement and shot selection were mostly spot on and the Delhi lad also seemed to have regained some of his lost confidence.
He was unbeaten on a well made 45 at the end of the day's play, studding his innings with seven boundaries. Vijay was batting on 28 at the other end with five boundaries to his name.
Earlier in the day, the Indian spinners ruled the roost as the South Africans lost wickets at regular intervals before being dismissed for a lowish total. Apart from Jadeja and Ashwin, fast bowler Varun Aarun (1-46) also claimed a wicket.
Opting to bowl first on a moist pitch on winning the toss, skipper Virat Kohli saw his decision vindicated as the Indian pacers troubled the batsmen with swing and movement off the seam. Opening pacers Stuart Binny and Ishant Sharma utilised the conditons to good effect, making it difficult for the Proteas to score.
The South African openers survived a few close calls as the considerable movement offered by the pitch saw them misjudge the line of the delivery on several occassions.
AB de Villiers, who is playing in his 100th Test, was the only South African batsman who adjusted well to the conditions, scoring a well deserved half-century before being sent back to the pavilion by Jadeja. Walking in to huge applause from the crowd, the veteran batsman scored a brisk 85, studding his innings with 11 hits to the fence and a six.
The introduction of Ashwin into the attack produced immediate results as he claimed two wickets in his very first over to give India the advantage. The Chennai off-spinner struck the first blow when left-handed opener van Zyl was trapped leg before with a straight delivery. The lack of spin outfoxed van Zyl, who played for the turn, only to see the ball hit his pads.
Ashwin sent back Faf du Plessis only a couple of balls later with Cheteshwar Pujara taking a fine low catch at forward short leg. It was initially ruled not out by the on-field umpire before the third umpire overruled the decision.
Aaron then compounded South Africa's misery as he uprooted Hashim Amla's off-stump when the Proteas' skipper misjudged the line of a delivery that kept straight after pitching.
Although the arrival of de Villiers increased the scoring rate, wickets continued to fall at regular intervals at the other end.
Dean Elgar, who had survived several close calls, finally saw his luck run out when he was bowled while trying to sweep Jadeja. J.P. Duminy and Dane Vilas did not last long before Jadeja claimed the prized wicket of de Villiers who was caught by wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha while attempting a big hit.
After that, it was only a matter of time before the Proteas innings came to an end and the Indians needed only 7.3 overs after the tea break to clean up the South African tailenders.