Kohli century boosts India
Virat Kohli provided early proof that India are well equipped to begin life after Sachin Tendulkar as he counter-punched his way to a century in the opening Test against South Africa in Johannesburg.
Kohli has been hailed as the man to take the hero's mantle from Tendulkar, who brought his record-breaking 24-year career to an end last month, and was given an immediate examination of his credentials after South Africa's quicks removed both openers inside the first hour.
After initially defying some fearful pace bowling before lunch, most specifically from Morne Morkel, Kohli blossomed in the afternoon sun as he reached his fifth Test century and first against the Proteas.
It was an innings India, who have lost their previous eight away Tests, required after no other batsman fully convinced in a stumps total of 255 for five after the first day.
Kohli's late dismissal for 119, pushing Jacques Kallis to cover, meant too that they were no more than poised in a contest between the world's top-two ranked nations.
Ajinkya Rahane, in his second Test, remained unbeaten on 43 alongside skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (17no) while South Africa's four seamers took a wicket each.
Much has been made of the fact India's batsmen have had little experience outside of the sub-continent in the five-day game, with Tendulkar's absence as a guiding force now also missing.
After openers Shikhar Dhawan (13) and Murali Vijay (six) then fell cheaply it was left to Kohli to extricate them from the dangers of two for 24.
The right-hander did so in reassuring style, unafraid to take the attack to South Africa's quicks. Most memorably he dismissively pulled Steyn to the ropes in the afternoon session after the quick had earlier unnerved Dhawan into giving away his wicket to the short ball.
Kohli's only obvious error, before he was left head bowed by his unexpectedly soft dismissal, was to sell Cheteshwar Pujara short in a run-out that ended an 89-run stand for the third wicket.
Kohli aborted a single he called for and with Pujara already committed was left without a prayer of re-finding his crease as Imran Tahir threw to Hashim Amla at the non-striker's end.
Life after Tendulkar had began uncomfortably for India as South Africa's quicks found concerning pace and bounce out of the New Wanderers wicket after Dhoni won the toss.
Steyn hounded Dhawan with the short ball before he eventually thrashed ill-advisedly at a bouncer, before Vijay fenced at a full Morkel delivery to edge behind.
Morkel could have even had another, Pujara edging just short of Graeme Smith at first slip, as the tall right-armer embarked on a probing spell of five overs which cost a single run for Vijay's wicket.
Kohli and Pujara nonetheless reached lunch without further loss to be 70 for two - their rearguard rewarded when leg-spinner Tahir's only over on the stroke of lunch cost 10 runs.
After the resumption Kohli began to counter-punch and he slapped Vernon Philander through the covers before comfortably pulling Steyn away in the next over.
He brought up his half-century from his 76th ball when Tahir dropped short, the leg-spinner's waywardness providing relief for India as his eight overs cost 47.
As the tourists seemed to be assuming some control in the afternoon session Pujara, who had willingly dug in for 25 from 98 balls, was needlessly run out in a mix-up of Kohli's doing.
Rohit Sharma (14) strode to the crease - armed with an average of 288 after his impressive debut series against West Indies - but loosely edged behind to Philander on the stroke of tea.
Kohli brought up his deserved century shortly after the evening session began, from his 140th ball, and seemed set for more until Kallis proved his long-standing worth with the ball.
After sharing words with Kohli the veteran finally produced a false shot from the right-hander, with JP Duminy gleefully holding on at cover.
It was, however, South Africa's final wicket of the day as Rahane showed composure alongside Dhoni to see off 10 overs of the new ball when the Wanderers' lights were required to be turned on.
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