Amla takes a well-earned drinks break [AFP]
Hashim Amla recorded his first Test double century to fire a warning shot to India's struggling bowling attack on the second day of the opening Test at Nagpur's VCA Stadium.

South Africa put match strategy ahead of chasing records as they declared their first innings at 558-6 with the 26-year-old Amla scoring an unbeaten 253.

Their total was five runs short of South Africa's biggest ever score against
India, while Hashim Amla finished 24 runs short of the highest ever score by a South African batsman.

That record remains with the man who made the declaration, captain Graeme Smith.

The declaration was intended to give South Africa's bowlers a shot at a wicket in twilight at the end of the day, but India were 25 without loss in reply at the close with Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir not out on nine and 12 respectively.

Dominant performance

Number three batsman Amla shared in a 108-run fourth wicket stand with AB de Villiers (53) after taking his overnight partnership with Jacques Kallis (173) to 340.

Mark Boucher struck 39 and put on 78 for the sixth wicket with Amla, 115 overnight, after Kallis, De Villiers and JP Duminy (9) were dismissed by spinners on a pitch that had started to offer turn and bounce.

Boucher fell to left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan to give the bowler his third wicket and South Africa declared after Amla reached the 250-mark.

Amla's marathon effort, in which he batted for 675 minutes facing 473 balls and striking 22 fours. enabled South Africa to recover after losing both openers for six runs and has offered the chance to set up a rare series victory on Indian soil.

Kallis, 159 overnight, was caught at short leg by Murali Vijay off off-spinner Harbhajan Singh after the tourists resumed at 291-2.

Amla was dropped on 149 by Vijay at short-leg off Harbhajan who bowled an attacking line after playing a restrictive role on the opening day.

Day two scorecard

South Africa first innings
(overnight 291-2)

G Smith b Zaheer 6
A Prince c Dhoni b Zaheer 0
H Amla not out 253
J Kallis c Vijay b Harbhajan 173
AB de Villiers c Badrinath b Sehwag 53
JP Duminy lbw b Harbhajan 9
M Boucher c Mishra b Zaheer 39
D Steyn not out 0
Extras 25
Total (six wickets decl.; 176 overs) 558
Fall of wickets: 1-5 2-6 3-346 4-454 5-476 6-554

Did not bat: P Harris, M Morkel, W Parnell.

India first innings

G Gambhir not out 12
V Sehwag not out 9
Extras 4
Total (no loss; four overs) 25
To bat: M Vijay, S Tendulkar, S Badrinath, MS Dhoni, H Singh, Z Khan, I Sharma, A Mishra, W Saha.

Wristy De Villiers hit five fours in his breezy fifty before an ambitious drive off part-time spinner Virender Sehwag resulted in a catch at point to debutant Subramaniam Badrinath.

Double

In-form Amla, who hit a century in the first Test of the drawn series against England last month, reached his double century with a boundary off Sehwag.

Harbhajan took his second wicket when he had Duminy lbw just before tea.

Mark Boucher, no stranger to the conditions as an Indian Premier League player, contributed 39 before trying to hoist a Zaheer Khan ball from outside off stump to the leg-side boundary and delivered a catch to Amit Mishra at cover.

Khan was the pick of the India bowlers with 3-96.

Leg-spinner Amit Mishra went wicketless despite bowling superbly to beat the batsmen time and again, further frustrating India.

Gambhir and Sehwag will carry an added responsibility for India's reply, given the injuries to the side that mean the normally strong batting line-up is without Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh and VVS Laxman.

Source: Agencies