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Chopra and Badrinath double-tons put India on top

South Africa A 93 for 2 (van Wyk 53*, Dippenaar 3*) trail India A 588 for 4 dec (Chopra 239*, Badrinath 200*) by 495 runs

Double centuries from Aakash Chopra and Subramaniam Badrinath carried India A to a mammoth 588 for 4 before the hosts took two wickets to leave South Africa A on 93 for 2 at the Feroz Shah Kotla. The 410-run association between Chopra and Badrinath was the second-highest fifth-wicket stand in first-class cricket, second to the unbeaten 464 put on by the Waugh brothers for New South Wales against Western Australia at Perth in 1990-91. Behind by 495 runs, South Africa need Morne van Wyk to carry on the positives shown in his unbeaten 53.

India consolidated their platform with a dominant first session. Both batsmen were watchful in the first hour's play. Chopra hit one sweet drive through the covers but otherwise was resolute and played his shots only against the spinners. He accumulated his way past 150, surviving a run-out scare. After he miscued a pull just short of mid-on early, he preferred to play the pace bowlers off the back foot. Badrinath, enjoying a fine run of form, built on his overnight 77 patiently before he picked up four boundaries in two overs, lacing one backward of point and hitting Werner Coetsee for three with good use of the feet. Just short of an hour into the day he stole a single to the offside to bring up his 12th first-class hundred.

The South Africans were seen shuffling the field after brief huddles, but nothing really went their way. Charl Langeveldt was accurate in his opening spell but Friedel de Wet was not as lively as on the opening day. Coetsee proved no threat to either batsman, and wasn't helped by bowling on middle and leg with a 5-4 offside field. Hashim Amla's introduction for nine overs of innocuous offspin allowed some easy runs and India went into lunch on 478 for 4.

After the break, as India's total crossed 500, Badrinath decided to up the tempo and struck Coetsee for four and six. Chopra, after getting to his patient hundred, hit a trio of sixes himself. He could have been dismissed on 231 but Justin Ontong dropped a tough caught-and-bowled chance. Badrinath turned to midwicket for one, got to 200, and India declared at 588 for 4.

As calm skies suddenly turned angry Pragyan Ojha, the left-arm spinner from Hyderabad, snapped an opening stand of 55 when he spun one across Coetsee and Mohammad Kaif held onto the catch at slip. Morne van Wyk ticked along confidently to 34 from 50 balls before a passing shower held up play with the visitors on 67 for 1. Amla was run out shortly after the interval by a good throw from Amit Mishra at point but van Wyk remained in the same vein. Though a dominant front-foot player, with a good amount of bottom hand, van Wyk played the spinners late and cut well. He brought up his half-century from 70 balls and progressed to 53 by the time play was called.

For the hosts, Ojha was the best bowler on display, getting decent turn and not offering runs for free. He finished with 1 for 18 from ten overs but local boy Ishant Sharma's no-ball propensity - he bowled eight in his five overs - remained a cause for worry. Pankaj Singh, the pace bowler from Rajasthan, was erratic while comeback man Mishra bowled just two overs of legspin.

There was a far less of a turnout on day two, perhaps not more than 100 spectators, contrary to what one daily described as crowds "flocking" to the Kotla. Both Chopra's and Badrinath's innings' were watched by Chetan Chauhan, Delhi's coach and DDCA bigwig, from behind tinted shades under an umbrella near the pavilion. At the stroke of lunch, Niranjan Shah and MP Pandove, repectively BCCI's secretary and joint secretary, and Ratnakar Shetty, the chief administrative officer, strolled past and headed into the Indian dressing room. Dilip Vengsarkar, chief of selectors, also made an appearance as the news broke of Rahul Dravid giving up the Indian captaincy.

But out in the middle Chopra and Badrinath, unaware of all this, batted on with firm resolve to put India in a great position.

SA A 3rd innings Partnerships

WktRunsPlayers
14MN van WykWL Coetsee
12MN van WykHM Amla
2HM AmlaAN Petersen
24HH DippenaarAN Petersen
27HH DippenaarAG Prince
17AG PrinceJL Ontong
66JL OntongTL Tsolekile
13TL TsolekileRK Kleinveldt
23TL TsolekileF de Wet
3CK LangeveldtTL Tsolekile