Makhaya Ntini celebrates the wicket of
VVS Laxman [AFP] 
India was bowled out in the opening session of a test for the first time on Thursday, dismissed for 76 in a woeful start to the second test against South Africa.

India won the toss and chose to bat, but was back in the pavilion after just 20 overs, making it the shortest completed innings ever on the subcontinent.

The meager total was only one run higher than India's worst ever innings at home, 75 against the West Indies in 1987.

South Africa replied strongly to be 223-4 at stumps on day one.

Already the tourists look unbeatable, as no team has won a test after scoring under 100 in its first innings since 1907.

Jacques Kallis (60 not out) and A.B. de Villiers (59 not out) put on 106 runs in an unbroken fifth wicket partnership, adding to a superb bowling performance by paceman Dale Steyn, who claimed 5-23.

'Pretty weak'

Steyn followed up his performance on the pitch with some damning words off it about the Indian players.

"I guess being bowled out for 76 is what happens when you don't have a game plan,'' Steyn said.

"Once one or two wickets fall and things kind of go wrong, they appear pretty weak. They didn't have a game plan or strategy.

"It looked like the guy that came in next didn't really know how to approach it.''

Makhaya Ntini took three wickets from his first four overs and Steyn's searing pace ripped through the host's batting lineup.

This was India's second shortest test innings, behind the 17-over dismissal by England at Lord's in 1974 when it was bowled out for 42.

It did set a new mark for brevity on the subcontinent, with the previous shortest completed innings being Sri Lanka's 24.5 over effort against Pakistan in Kandy in 2006.

Bowler friendly wicket

India's batsmen, who made 627 in its only innings of the drawn first test last week, struggled when presented with a lively track after the batsmen's paradise of the series opener.

"The wicket helped us here a lot more than it did in Chennai, there was a little bit of movement here. It probably scared the Indians a bit after one or two wickets fell,'' said Steyn, who claimed five wickets for the eighth time in his 23-test career.

"I haven't played much in the subcontinent, and I've never seen a pitch like this with so much grass,'' he said.

Ntini (3-18) made the first breakthrough as opener Wasim Jaffer (9) edged an outswinger, offering a low catch to skipper Graeme Smith at first slip.

First test triple century maker, Virender Sehwag (6), V.V.S. Laxman (3) and Sourav Ganguly (0) were all bowled in quick succession to have India tottering at 30-4.

Rahul Dravid (3) held up his end for 51 minutes before he was also bowled, playing a delivery onto the stumps, and Mahendra Dhoni (14) was caught behind off Morne Morkel (2-20), who sent skipper Kumble back to the dressing room without scoring two balls later.

Having slumped to 56-8, India looked like falling short of its previous lowest total against South Africa of 66, before top-scorer Irfan Pathan (21 not out) helped the hosts past that mark.

"It was one of the worst days I've seen in 10 years of international cricket,'' said Harbhajan Singh.

"We need to take the blame, we didn't apply ourselves and played a lot of casual shots. Almost everything went wrong,'' he said.

In reply, South Africa's in-form openers Smith and Neil McKenzie put on 78, with Smith benefiting from a dropped catch by Ganguly at short-leg when he was on 3.

South Africa surpassed India's total in just 88 balls before Sreesanth trapped Smith (34) lbw.

McKenzie (42) edged spinner Harbhajan Singh (3-49), who claimed three wickets in four overs in a brief period of dominance by India's bowlers, snaring Hashim Amla (16) and Ashwell Prince (2).

Kallis and A.B. de Villiers reasserted South African control, with Kallis striking five fours and a six off 125 deliveries during his authoritative knock, while de Villier's 102-ball innings featured seven boundaries.

Source: Agencies