NEW DELHI, Dec 3: Ajinkya Rahane stood tall amidst ruins with an unbeaten 89 as the much vaunted top-order failed yet again with India reaching a shaky 231 for 7 against South Africa on the opening day of fourth and final cricket Test, here today.
Save for Rahane, who came back to form with a top quality unbeaten 89-run innings from 155 balls, and skipper Virat Kohli (44), who looked in good touch, the other specialist batsmen did not make use of a slow but decent enough track for batting after the skipper had won the toss.
Rahane�s innings had nine boundaries and two sixes and he is 11 short of a well-deserved fifth Test hundred. Giving Rahane company was R Ashwin (6) when play was called off slightly early owing to bad light.
The tormentors for India were spinner Dane Piedt (4/101 in 34 overs), playing his first Test of the series, and pacer Kyle Abott (3/23 in 17 overs), who was economical as well as incisive with his swing bowling as South Africa sent down 84 overs during the day.
Rahane, who scored his first ever half-century on home soil, kept his cool even as wickets tumbled at the other end. For the record, this is only the third half-century by an Indian batsman in the series so far and eighth half-century of Rahane�s Test career.
The total was also the highest by any team in the series so far. There were only two significant partnerships � 70 between Kohli and Rahane for the 4th wicket and 59 for the 7th wicket between Rahane and Ravindra Jadeja (24).
While he played second fiddle to Kohli during their stand, Rahane took charge once Wriddhiman Saha (1) was castled by Abbott�s reverse swing.
India 1st innings: Murali Vijay c Amla b Piedt 12, Shikhar Dhawan lbw b Piedt 33, Cheteshwar Pujara b Abbott 14, Virat Kohli c Vilas b Piedt 44, Ajinkya Rahane not out 89, Rohit Sharma c Imran Tahir b Piedt 1, Wriddhiman Saha b Abbott 1, Ravindra Jadeja c Elgar b Abbott 24, Ravichandran Ashwin not out 6. Extras: (B-4, NB-3) 7. Total: (For 7 wickets in 84 overs) 231. Fall of wickets: 1-30, 2-62, 3-66, 4-136, 5-138, 6-139, 7-198. Bowling: M Morkel 17-5-40-0, KJ Abbott 17-6-23-3, DL Piedt 34-5-101-4, Imran Tahir 7-1-36-0, D Elgar 5-0-15-0, JP Duminy 4-0-12-0. � PTI