Monday, January 3, 2011

South Africa strike after Kallis masterclass

Jacques Kallis was the only batsman to survive the difficult phase against the second new ball and his solidity ensured South Africa reached a formidable total despite losing four wickets in quick time on the second morning at Newlands. Sreesanth had threatened to end South Africa's innings for less than 300 but he and the rest of the Indian bowlers failed to dislodge Kallis, who drew level with Ricky Ponting on 39 Test centuries and added 79 runs with the last two batsmen, prolonging India's wait to bat.
When India's openers finally began their reply, South Africa's bowlers were at them from the start even though the pitch seemed to have eased out. Dale Steyn found movement with the new ball, while his partner Morne Morkel extracted steep bounce, their extra pace hurrying India's batsmen for time. South Africa prised out two wickets and had reduced India to 45 for 2 when the players went in for tea.
The second day began in contrast to the first, with an azure sky replacing the grey of the opening day, and burst into life as soon as MS Dhoni handed the second new ball to Sreesanth when it was three overs old. He struck consecutive blows in his first over and South Africa were soon reduced to 283 for 8, after having begun play on 232 for 4. Kallis was tested too, and beaten often, but he combined tight technique with aggression and resisted India.
Having bowled Ashwell Prince through the bat-pad gap and got Mark Boucher caught behind first ball with an outswinger, Sreesanth was good enough to trouble Kallis as well with away seamers. Kallis countered, punching powerfully to the long-on boundary and whipping through midwicket when the lengths were too full. He had begun the day on 81 and those boundaries took him to 99, but he watched Dale Steyn fend a short ball from Zaheer into the slips before he had the strike again. And when he did, Kallis flicked Sreesanth to fine leg to bring up an invaluable century in trying conditions.
Morne Morkel also fell cheaply, wafting Sreesanth to Dhoni, reducing South Africa to 283 for 8. The responsibility of prolonging the innings was now Kallis' and his task got harder when an attempted pull against Sreesanth strained his side. He winced as he held his rib cage with a hand that was already bruised, and got on with the job.
Kallis had support from Paul Harris and did not feel the need to farm the strike during a 27-run partnership for the ninth wicket, which took South Africa past 300. That association ended when Ishant bounced Harris from round the wicket and the defensive fend ended in leg slip's hands. With only Lonwabo Tsotsobe remaining, Kallis took most of the strike and attacked. He pulled and off-drove Zaheer in an over which cost India ten runs, and when he edged Ishant through a one-man slip cordon for four, South Africa brought up 100 runs for the first session.
Kallis resumed after lunch by pulling a 116-kph short ball from Sreesanth to the boundary. He would often block the first few balls of an over and then slam boundaries off the last deliveries when the field came in to try and deny him singles. Consecutive square-driven fours off the last two balls of a Sreesanth over took Kallis past 150, and India's frustration grew when Sachin Tendulkar fumbled the first ball of the next to let Tsotsobe off strike. This routine played out a couple of times before Kallis chased and edged Zaheer, falling for 161. The Cape Town crowd gave its hero a rousing ovation as he walked off after a job supremely well done.
Kallis did not take the field when India began their response. He was nursing his strained side when Virender Sehwag, having driven Dale Steyn to the cover boundary the previous ball, mis-timed a drive towards extra cover, where Graeme Smith dived forward to take a low catch.
Rahul Dravid could have been dismissed on 4, when Gautam Gambhir called him for a single and sent him back, but he watched Kallis' substitute JP Duminy miss the stumps at the non-striker's end. Gambhir could have been dismissed on 10 but he watched his edge get dropped by Alviro Petersen at gully. South Africa were soon celebrating, though, for Dravid had risked a single on the dropped catch. AB de Villiers pounced on the stray ball, slid, turned quickly and threw down the stumps at the batsman's end. Dravid did not sprint, he did not run in a straight line, he did not dive and he did not wait for the third umpire's decision.
Gambhir and Tendulkar took India through to tea, with South Africa steadily taking control of the Test that will decide the series.

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