DURBAN (Reuters) - An unbeaten century stand for the second wicket by Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara put India in control before bad light forced an early finish to the first day of the second and final test against South Africa on Thursday.
On a lifeless wicket India reached 181 for one without much drama at Kingsmead after the tourists won the toss and elected to bat, managing to blunt the much-vaunted South African attack on a ground where the home side have lost their last four test matches.
Vijay will resume on day two on 91 and Pujara on 58, the pair sharing a stand of 140 having made batting look comfortable before the players left the field for bad light just after tea with 61 overs bowled.
The pitch is slow, with only Morne Morkel (one for 26) managing to unduly trouble the batsmen by extracting some bounce from the wicket.
"We as bowlers were a little bit surprised by the pace of the wicket today," Morkel told reporters. "It's very dry, it's a touch on the slow side but what I was personally surprised by was the fact that after 13 overs the ball looked 60 overs old.
"We have to find a way to bring reverse swing into the game. It's the sort of wicket that is going to be tough to strike on but it's important for us to restrict them and take wickets, that's the mindset that we have to have tomorrow."
Morkel passed a late fitness test, which South Africa captain Graeme Smith described as a "miracle" as the big fast bowler recovered from an ankle ligament strain picked up in the first test in Johannesburg that finished in a draw on Sunday.
The only wicket to fall was that of opener Shikhar Dhawan (29) as Morkel came round the wicket to the left-hander and had him caught at third slip by Alviro Petersen with the India score on 41.
Dale Steyn once again battled to find his best form and has now bowled 408 deliveries since taking his last wicket, that of Dhawan in the first innings in Johannesburg. His career average is a wicket every seven overs.
"We are in a very good position. Our batsmen are doing pretty well," said India bowling coach Joe Dawes. "South Africa were trying everything, trying hard to come at our batsmen.
"They tried attacking with the short ball and coming round the wicket. It didn't work.
"We would have liked to keep them in the field for six hours but we can't control the weather conditions," added Dawes.
"Tomorrow we have to come back and press our advantage, try and get a big total. Then afterwards we have to bowl well. The pitch should take some turn later on and reverse swing will also come in to play."
This test is the 166th and last for South Africa all-rounder Jacques Kallis who made his debut against England on the same ground in 1995.