PRETORIA, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Aiden Markram scored an unbeaten half-century as South Africa weathered some early pressure from India before reaching 78 without loss at lunch on the opening day of the second test in Pretoria on Saturday.
Markram, who was raised just a few kilometres from the Centurion Park stadium, will resume after the interval on 51 along with a more cautious Dean Elgar, who has 26.
The 23-year-old now has two centuries and two half-centuries in seven test innings, having been handed a debut against Bangladesh in September, and was imperious at times as he scored runs all around the wicket, crashing nine fours.
South Africa won the toss and elected to bat on a slow wicket that is expected to speed up on the second and third days, as they seek to wrap up the three-match series after claiming a 72-run victory in the first test in Cape Town.
India had initially contained the home batsmen in the first 90 minutes of the session, bowling excellent lines that made scoring shots a risk.
South Africa crawled to 42 in the first 20 overs before taking 15 runs off an over from Jasprit Bumrah that included a misjudged catching chance for Murali Vijay off an Elgar top edge.
That piece of good fortune spurred the home side on and they managed another 36 runs in the next seven overs up to the lunch break, the shackles seemingly broken.
South Africa have handed a debut to tall seamer Lungi Ngidi regarded as a hugely promising talent who will expect to get steep bounce at a brisk pace on his home pitch in provincial cricket.
The 21-year-old has only played nine first class matches in his career, but featured in two Twenty20 Internationals against Sri Lanka 12 months ago that included a return of 4-19 before injury sidelined him for the rest of the tour.
India have made three changes from the first test, one enforced, as opener Lokesh Rahul, wicketkeeper-batsman Parthiv Patel and seamer Ishant Sharma replaced Shikhar Dhawan, Wriddhiman Saha and Bhuvneshwar Kumar respectively.
Saha has a hamstring problem and was not been risked. (Reporting By Nick Said; Editing by John O’Brien)