As India take on South Africa in yet another Test series, Abhishek Mukherjee looks back at the greatest innings in the history of India-South Africa encounters.
To rule India-South Africa contests with the bat is no mean issue. It has always been a test of character — whether against furious pace, jagged lift, and unreal movement or against vicious turn, bat-pad fielders, and awkward bounce. Whatever be the venue survival, accumulation, and strokeplay are all difficult.
Even then, there are a lot of quality innings to choose from. Let us restrict the list, then, to one per batsman.
Let us look at the greatest innings in the history of India-South Africa Tests.
Pravin Amre, 103 at Kingsmead, 1992-93
It was the very first Test between the two nations. And it witnessed a very, very special performance by a debutant. Pravin Amre had scored a fifty on his One-Day International (ODI) debut against the same opposition in their comeback match at Eden Gardens a year ago: now he was entering the bigger arena in their den.
The Test began in sensational manner with Jimmy Cook becoming dismissed the first ball of his debut Test. Kepler Wessels then carved out a hundred and the hosts reached 254. Allan Donald and Brett Schultz shared the new ball, and within moments India were reeling at 38 for four, with Sachin Tendulkar achieving the ‘feat’ of being the first batsman given out by a third umpire.
The young Amre walked out to join his captain Mohammad Azharuddin. The pair hung around grimly against the four-pronged fast bowling attack, with even the usually fluent Azhar getting bogged down for runs. Azhar was eventually run-out after an 83-run partnership, and Craig McMillan had Kapil Dev in the dying moments of Day Two.
Resuming at 128 for six India sunk further when Donald removed Manoj Prabhakar. Amre finally found an ally in Kiran More, and the pair batted on; Amre eventually reached what is generally considered the greatest debut hundred by an Indian, and his reaching three figures caused a pitch invasion. In the process he became the second person after Wessels to score a fifty on ODI debut and a hundred on Test debut.
Amre and More added 101 runs. When Amre eventually holed out to Jonty Rhodes at McMillan the danger was over. More took India to a 23-run lead, but rain washed out a day-and-a-half of cricket, leading to a draw.
Hansie Cronje, 135 at St George’s Park, 1992-93
After two drawn Tests India found themselves in trouble at St George’s Park after Donald shot India out for 212. Manoj Prabhakar struck back, removing Wessels without a run on the board. Andrew Hudson found a partner in young Hansie Cronje, and the pair batted for 199 minutes for a 117-run partnership.
India did not give up, though: Venkathapaty Raju struck twice in four balls, getting rid of both Hudson and Peter Kirsten. It fell upon Cronje to hold the South African innings together. McMillan resisted for a while, but there was a collapse thereafter as he, Rhodes, and Dave Richardson fell in quick succession.
Cronje hung on gamely, with Omar Henry and Craig Matthews to take the score past India’s total. He reached his hundred. It was attrition at its best: the Indian spinners, Raju and Anil Kumble, bowled 96.3 overs between them to take six wickets for 154. Cronje was last out – for a 410-ball 135 that lasted 529 minutes. South Africa managed a 63-run lead, which turned out to be crucial.
Kapil Dev, 129 at St George’s Park, 1992-93
If Cronje’s innings was about determination and grit, the innings Kapil played was about ruthless destruction. It might even have been the innings of his career, which is saying something given his illustrious career. As the raging bull that was Donald stormed tore into the fragile Indian batting line-up Kapil grabbed him by the horns for a blitz St George’s Park has seldom witnessed.
India trailed by 63. India were reduced to 31 for six after 96 minutes of batting. Ravi Shastri had been the sixth man out for five. WV Raman and Tendulkar had scored golden ducks. Nobody in the first six had crossed seven. Donald and Schultz were on rampage. The Indians seemed helpless, and the murky shadows of an innings-defeat loomed on the horizon.
In a bizarre coincidence Prabhakar, More, and Kumble scored 17 apiece. Kapil batted for 257 minutes. He hit 14 fours and a six. He faced 180 balls and scored 129. The other ten faced 263 balls to score 78. He was last out, and his 129 came out of the 184 India managed during his stay.
He drove and cut and pulled and hooked. For once Donald and Schultz were reduced to mediocrity and looked completely helpless. Not only did he show the specialists at the top of the order how to take on quality pace, he also taught them a lesson on domination.
It was not good enough, though. Had he had some company at the other end it might have been a different story altogether.
Fanie de Villiers 67 not out at Motera, 1996-97
It was South Africa’s first Test on Indian soil, and they began well: with Donald picking up four wickets and Rhodes effecting two run outs of the highest quality India were bowled out for 223. The Indian spinners – Kumble, Sunil Joshi, and Narendra Hirwani – then struck back, and the tourists found them at 119 for seven.
Fanie de Villiers walked out to join Pat Symcox. Over the next hour-and-a-half the pair put up an amazing display of application: both batsmen used their feet to good use, reaching the pitch of the delivery and playing everything down with a dead bat. Once they got their eyes in de Villiers started opening up while Symcox continued with his dour approach.
Joshi trapped Symcox leg-before just before stumps on Day Two: the pair had added 63 in 93 minutes. Donald walked out, and de Villiers carried the fight into the next day, refusing to give up. Donald did not score runs but hung in there, showing uncharacteristic application and keeping everything out.
de Villiers reached his fifty – the first of the Test – with a drive off Kumble; the pair added 60 in 89 minutes before Tendulkar summoned Javagal Srinath. The Karnataka speedster finished things off, but de Villiers stood unvanquished on a 136-ball 67 with five fours and a six. It remained the highest score of the Test. India, however, won the Test thanks to a gutsy debut fifty from VVS Laxman and Srinath’s destructive six for 21 in the fourth innings.
Gary Kirsten, 102 and 133 at Eden Gardens, 1996-97
After the defeat at Motera, South Africa needed to win the second Test at Eden Gardens, and Hudson and Gary Kirsten went about the job in a no-nonsense fashion. As always, Kirsten allowed his partner to do the scoring as he himself hung around. Eventually both batsmen scored hundreds, and they added 236 in 244 minutes — still the highest opening partnership at Eden Gardens.
Kirsten was eventually bowled by Srinath second ball after tea. His 102 had taken 170 balls and had included 14 boundaries. Though Venkatesh Prasad had struck back with six wickets and restricted the tourists to 428 Kirsten and Hudson had done their jobs.
Azhar then played one of the absurdly outrageous innings, connecting almost everything and sending them to the fence. He reached his hundred in 74 balls and eventually fell for 109; Kumble, too, backed up with 88, and the Protean lead was restricted to 99.
With Donald nursing a bruised heel (he did not bowl in the fourth innings); the tourists needed quick runs, and Kirsten rose to the occasion yet again despite the early departure of Hudson (retired hurt) and the debutant Herschelle Gibbs. Eventually he went on to score the second hundred of the Test.
Kirsten’s second-innings effort was better than the first: he was eventually run out for a 196-ball 133 with 18 fours, and it was his partnership of 212 with Darryl Cullinan that set the Test up for the tourists. Set to chase 467 in four sessions, India capitulated against Lance Klusener, who took up the mantle and routed the hosts with eight for 64 on debut.
Mohammad Azharuddin, 115 at Newlands, 1996-97
India had been routed by Donald in the first Test at Kingsmead, having been bowled out for 100 and 66. They were in a similar situation in the second Test at Newlands: after the hosts declared at 529 for seven (Kirsten, McMillan, and Klusener all scored hundreds) India reduced to 58 for five.
These were the situations when Azhar walked out to join Tendulkar. Just over a month ago he had slammed almost the same attack at Eden Gardens. This, however, was a different situation altogether: they needed to score 272 more to make the hosts bat again; at the other end was the man with whom he did not have the best of relationships, especially since he had replaced Azhar as the captain of India; and the knives have sharpened after his failure in the first Test where he had scored 15 and eight.
The situation might have made lesser individuals crumble. But Azhar was a class apart: he took on the foursome of Donald, Shaun Pollock, Klusener, and McMillan and plundered them for boundaries; it was an innings superior to even the one at Eden Gardens in the sense that the conditions were more hostile and India did not have home advantage.
While Tendulkar kept on holding an end up Azhar kept on taking risks — and kept on getting away with them. He began ‘normally’, with a brutal on-drive off Pollock for four. From that moment there was no looking back: strokes were hit both on the ground and in the air, and soon afterwards a six off Paul Adams soared over long-off.
Not only were those steely wrists at constant work, the booming drives through off were also hit unimaginably hard. Once again he picked out his ‘favourite’ Klusener for special treatment, hitting him all round the wicket with ridiculous ease. He brought up his fifty in 57 balls with seven fours (six of them off ‘Zulu’) and a six, and then he cut loose.
As Donald bounced short, Azhar cut — and cut hard, placing them well on either side of point. The hundred came up in 96 balls, and when he was eventually run-out, he had scored 115 off 110 balls with 19 fours and a six. The 174-minute stand had added 222 in 40 overs, and for once Tendulkar was dominated in a partnership.
While Tendulkar’s grand 169 helped India to save the follow-on, Azhar’s innings was the more destructive of the two: seldom has an attack that good on a bouncy track been dominated that way — but Azhar was more than equal to the task. Eventually India conceded a lead of 169 and lost the Test by 282 runs.
Herschelle Gibbs, 196 at St George’s Park, 2001-02
South Africa had won the first Test at Bloemfontein by nine wickets. Both Gibbs and Klusener had scored hundreds, and Pollock had picked up ten wickets; quality hundreds by Tendulkar and a debutant Virender Sehwag in the first innings had gone in vain.
Come the second Test at St George’s Park, and Srinath vowed vengeance. He had Kirsten caught in the slips and then ran through Jacques Kallis’ defence early. After a couple of breakthroughs from Harbhajan Singh and Ajit Agarkar, Srinath came back, removing Klusener and Pollock in quick succession.
The six batsmen had scored a mere 81 among themselves, but South Africa had still reached 244; Gibbs had crossed 150: while Srinath had been denting the South African line-up with one blow after another, Gibbs had made sure that the boat stayed afloat with his swashbuckling strokes.
At stumps on Day One the hosts were on 237 for five; Gibbs had scored 155 of these. He seemed to find the boundary at will, and threatened to break many a record with the way he batted. However, Sourav Ganguly eventually tossed the ball to Tendulkar, who got rid of him with a long-hop outside off-stump – but by then Gibbs had absolutely decimated the Indians into submission.
Gibbs’ 442-minute, 354-ball 196 had included 25 fours and a six. South Africa scored 362 (324 during Gibbs’ stay at the wicket), India saved the follow-on, and Deep Dasgupta and Rahul Dravid eventually saved the Test with a 312-minute partnership of 171. The series, however, was lost.
Ashwell Prince 121 at Kingsmead, 2006-07
India had smelled blood after their shock victory at New Wanderers, and Zaheer Khan and S Sreesanth got them to another rollicking start in the next Test at Kingsmead. The hosts were reeling at 28 for three in the 13th over, and given that they had been playing the extra bowler they were in serious trouble.
Gibbs launched a furious onslaught in a way only he could, scoring 62 in 88 balls in 13 overs. He completely dominated a partnership of 94 in 137 balls, but in the end he tried a casual pull off Sreesanth and was caught brilliantly by MS Dhoni. The dismissal brought Mark Boucher to the crease.
With Pollock the only one among those to come with any kind of batting prowess Ashwell Prince took centre-stage. Instead of counterattacking he went for the old-fashioned way of bowling the Indian seamers down. On the rare occasions that the Indians bowled loose deliveries they did not go unpunished: Zaheer, for example, was cut furiously to bring up his 50 in 116 balls.
There was more work to be done, though. He did not budge when he was sledged profusely by Sreesanth, he did not give in to the relentless accuracy of Kumble, he was not lured by Zaheer’s teasing line, and he let VRV Singh’s quick bouncers sail harmlessly past him.
Then Sreesanth brought one in and bowled Boucher through the gate: the pair had added another vital 100. VRV then saw Pollock off and Kumble picked out Andrew Hall and Andre Nel in the span of three deliveries; South Africa desperately needed more runs to ensure they could put up something challenging.
The hundred eventually came up in emphatic style: Sreesanth swung one away but Prince went with the cover-drive, beating Sehwag to the fence. Then he cut loose, square-cutting Zaheer and cover-driving Sreesanth for two boundaries.
He was eventually ninth out, trying to go after a loose delivery from Sreesanth and edging it to Laxman in the slips. His 121 had taken 212 balls and had included 16 fours. South Africa were eventually bowled out for 328. The innings turned out to be the difference between the sides as the five South African seamers, spearheaded by Makhaya Ntini, bowled the hosts to a 174-run victory. South Africa went on to seal the series 2-1 with a win in the third Test as well.
Virender Sehwag, 319 at Cheapauk, 2007-08
Triple-hundreds are not easy to come by, but then, Sehwag is no ordinary person. When your opposition has scored 540, it’s already close to stumps on Day Two, and you’re up against an attack consisting of Dale Steyn, Ntini, and Morkel, you’re not supposed to go for a win.
But then, not everybody is Sehwag. When Ntini bowled a shade outside off-stump he was driven through cover off the back-foot for four; the next ball soared over the non-existent deep third man for a six. Oh, did I mention it was the second over of the innings?
Wasim Jaffer joined in the fun too: the third ball of Ntini’s third over met with a similar uppercut with a similar result. Steyn was hit past the bowler for four and square-cut furiously for four more. Morkel was summoned, and the ball flew over backward-point; Harris was treated with supreme disdain. India finished the day on 82 without loss from 21 overs. Sehwag was on a 61-ball 52, hungry for many more.
Sehwag began Day Three cautiously; the hundred came off 116 balls, and came while he tried to clear long-off with a six but failed marginally. Then he exploded, hitting three boundaries in four balls; he lost Jaffer after a 213-run partnership, but kept marching on. Morkel was taken for three boundaries in four balls, and Harris for three in three: he finally caught up with the balls, hit Ntini for a six over deep fine-leg for a six to reach 199, and flicked him through mid-wicket the next ball to reach his double-hundred in 194 balls.
Despite the pace battalion Smith postponed the new ball by seven overs, and when he actually took it, he threw it to Prince. There was no miracle: Sehwag hit a flat six off Prince over long-on; soon the second 200-partnership came up. It was the first time that the first two partnerships of an innings had crossed 200 (Sehwag was at it again in 2009-10 when he had 200-plus partnerships with Murali Vijay and Dravid).
As is often predicted with Sehwag, he reached 297 with a massive straight six off Harris; the triple-hundred came when he flicked Ntini to deep square-leg for a single. He became the first batsman to score triple-hundreds both home and away and on two separate grounds (both records have subsequently been emulated by Chris Gayle).
It was also the fastest triple-hundred of all time: he had reached the landmark in 278 balls. He remained unbeaten on 309 at stumps and immediately set a new highest score for India (breaking his own record). He pulled Ntini for four, but edge the next ball to Neil McKenzie at first slip for a 304-ball 319. His strike rate of 115.35 still remains the highest for any 250-plus score (he also holds the second, third, and fifth positions).
More importantly Sehwag had set a platform for India. There was more aggressive batting to follow, and India were bowled out for 627 with an 87-run lead on the fourth afternoon. It did not come any good, though, as McKenzie batted out with 155 and the tourists finished on 331 for five.
Sourav Ganguly, 87 at Green Park, 2007-08
Following Sehwag’s blitz, Steyn had routed India to lead South Africa to an innings victory in the second Test at Motera. India struck back at Green Park, with Ishant Sharma and Harbhajan bowling out South Africa for 265 after they were 152 for one. Steyn and Morkel hit back, and when Ganguly walked out India were 113 for three to join Laxman.
There was no Tendulkar, and Laxman was bowled by a peach from Morkel ten runs later. India needed a competitive total in the first innings to square the series – which looked difficult with Steyn and Morkel both on fire. Ganguly had started with a flick off Morkel for four, and soon hit Harris over mid-off for more. He followed it by hitting Harris against the turn through the cover for four more.
Ganguly’s confidence rubbed on to Yuvraj Singh, who counterattacked as well. Ganguly’s trademark cover-drive was unleashed when he struck Ntini for a four to bring up his fifty. Smith tried Steyn and Morkel as well, but Ganguly seemed completely invincible against the Protean speedsters.
He got cautious after he lost Yuvraj, letting Dhoni take the risks. Ganguly handled the seamers brilliantly, and finally went out of the cocoon by hitting Harris and Kallis for two boundaries. As he lost Dhoni, Harbhajan, and Piyush Chawla in quick succession, he decided to take risks: he tried to clear Steyn and holed out to Amla at extra-cover.
It was one of the finest innings against pace bowling on a deteriorating pitch by an Indian. Sreesanth and Ishant then went after the bowling, adding 46 with the most orthodox of strokes. Trailing by 60 South Africa crumbled to 121 against Harbhajan and Sehwag and lost by eight wickets. The series was squared.
Hashim Amla, 114 and 123 not out at Eden Gardens, 2009-10
It was the same story all over again. India had gone into the final Test one down, having been routed by Steyn in the previous Test. The tourists simply needed to hold on to the lead. They lost Smith early, but Amla, the grim, obdurate Amla, settled down with the debutant Alviro Petersen.
The Indian attack was a potent one: Zaheer and Ishant both used the early morning Kolkata moisture to their advantage, and both Harbhajan and Amit Mishra managed to extract turn from the wicket. The pair, however, added 209 before Petersen was caught-behind off Zaheer for a round 100.
Amla, easily the dominant of the two partners, then followed with a 166-ball 114 when he edged a mistimed pull to Dhoni off Zaheer; he had hit 14 boundaries and had even hit a most non-Amlaesque stroke when he pulled Mishra against the turn over deep mid-wicket to clear the fence. No other South African crossed 15, and from 218 for one they collapsed to 296.
Four Indians scored hundreds; there were even two double-hundred partnerships, and Dhoni declared 357 runs ahead. South Africa needed to bat 133 overs to save the Test on a turning track.
Amla was the in-form batsman, having already scored a double-hundred and a hundred in his previous two innings. He walked out in the 13th over when Mishra trapped Smith leg-before and immediately paddle-swept Harbhajan for four. Unfortunately he lost Petersen to Harbhajan soon afterwards.
He accelerated, probably with the intent to reach the 357-mark to ensure the innings-defeat was saved. He hit Zaheer and Mishra for boundaries, and with Kallis also joining in, South Africa were going at well over three runs an over. Just before stumps, however, Mishra turned one by the proverbial mile and had Kallis caught-behind. South Africa finished the day at 115 for three: they either needed to bat out the day or score 242 more runs.
Amla and Prince had a cautious start the next morning. With Zaheer injured Dhoni fell back on Harbhajan and Mishra, and it took over two overs of the extended session for India to break through. Prince was beaten by Harbhajan’s flight, and AB de Villiers was completely foxed by Mishra’s googly just before lunch.
The second session began in a dramatic fashion with JP Duminy and Steyn both falling to Harbhajan in quick succession. 357 seemed impossible: Amla had to bat out 55 overs with the only the last three batsmen for company.
Wayne Parnell provided Amla with the support he needed. The Indians attacked Parnell, who seemed to survive everything; he was dropped by Suresh Raina off Ishant, and was beaten by Harbhajan and Mishra on multiple occasions. However, somehow he managed to survive. Amla pulled Mishra for four to bring up a patient hundred in 268 balls: there was, however, still a lot to be done.
South Africa reached tea without the loss of another wicket. Dhoni brought back Ishant for another burst, and he struck, having Parnell caught at short mid-on. Harris hung on grimly but eventually edged one off Ishant to third slip; when Morkel walked out South Africa still needed to bat out 22.1 overs to save the Test, win the series, and usurp India of the top rank in Test cricket.
It all depended on Amla. Everything the Indian spinners was met with a dead bat; the shadows lengthened; the close-in fielders prowled like greedy hawks around the bat; Harbhajan and Mishra sent down over after over, only to be thwarted by Amla’s defence, technique, and determination.
There were loud appeals, edges that did not carry, and even a five when Sehwag kicked one intentionally to the fence to stop Amla from keeping the strike. With three overs to go Amla tried desperately to steal a single off Mishra’s over but could not obtain one: he eventually had to expose Morkel.
Morkel was trapped leg-before off the third ball of the penultimate over of Harbhajan. India celebrated, but then stopped to applaud Amla off the arena. Eden Gardens stood up in appreciation as one of the greatest rearguard actions on the ground came to a valiant end. Amla’s 123 not out had lasted for 394 balls and 499 minutes.
VVS Laxman, 96 at Kingsmead, 2010-11
India were blown out in the first Test at Centurion, losing by an innings – but they did a better job in the second outing at Kingsmead. After Steyn bowled them out for 205 India struck back, with Harbhajan and a fit Zaheer ensuring a 74-run lead for the tourists.
India needed a good lead, but the South African seamers soon reduced them to 56 for four; they were only 130 runs ahead, and a couple of quick wickets would have meant an easy target for the hosts; however, they still had Laxman – arguably India’s supreme crisis man – to deal with.
The off-cutter from Kallis was hit through cover with minimal effort, lighting up Kingsmead; when Kallis bounced, Laxman duly pulled him for four more. Morkel got rid of Cheteshwar Pujara, but Laxman responded by unleashing a rare uppercut against the same bowler that flew over gully for four more. A more conventional four through point followed, but soon afterwards Dhoni was caught-behind off Lonwabo Tsotsobe. With Harbhajan also falling, it was up to Laxman to guide India through.
Zaheer walked out. Memories of New Wanderers from four years back came to the spectators. India were 148 for seven, still 222 ahead; the match hung in the balance. Laxman rose to the occasion, flicked Harris against the turn for four, and batted on patiently, without taking any undue risk.
The lead built up slowly; the pair added 70 before Zaheer finally fell. Ishant followed soon, and desperate to score quick runs, Laxman tried to clear point: the ball bounced too high, and he was caught-behind for a 171-ball 96. The lead had stretched to 302. The Indian bowlers delivered victory on the fourth afternoon, winning by 87 runs.
Sachin Tendulkar, 146 at Newlands, 2010-11
Steyn bowled, Tendulkar batted. Steyn beat the bat. Tendulkar hit him severely. Steyn swung. Tendulkar was beaten. Steyn swung again. Tendulkar drove. Steyn bounced. Tendulkar cut. Steyn unleashed the most lethal of deliveries. Tendulkar did not counterattack: he simply saw them out.
It was the contest of our times. Steyn finished with five for 75. Tendulkar scored 146. Had it not been Tendulkar, Steyn might have finished with eight for 25. Had it not been for Steyn, Tendulkar might have scored a 250. It was a story of two champions, both lifting themselves to the highest level they could. It was a duel of the pedigree that makes cricket the sport it is.
South Africa had scored 362. India lost Sehwag and Dravid with 28 on the board, but Gautam Gambhir batted on. Tendulkar began cautiously, but soon played his trademark flick off Steyn past mid-wicket for four. A flick and a straight-drive off Morkel followed, and Tendulkar was on his way.
Tsotsobe experimented by pitching short; Tendulkar rocked back and pulled, and the ball rocketed through mid-wicket. The next ball was pitched short as well: it sounded like a gunshot and as the square-cut sped through point. Tsotsobe fell apart after Tendulkar hit one straight past him.
The pair batted positively, and just before the new ball was claimed India lost Gambhir and Laxman in quick succession. Smith claimed the new ball, and Steyn produced what was probably the spell of his life. He bowled two almost unplayable deliveries to remove Pujara and Dhoni in quick succession, and hit Harbhajan’s stump without any luck.
Tendulkar, meanwhile, hit Morkel over the wicket-keeper for a six to bring up his hundred and square-cut the next ball for four. Then, as he saw Steyn toying with his teammates, he took over. Steyn bowled 66 balls on either side of lunch to return figures of two for 13; unfortunately, he could bowl only 18 of those balls to the others as Tendulkar kept on shielding them.
He added 76 with Harbhajan and was eventually bowled by Morkel for a 314-ball 146 with 17 fours and two sixes. India managed a slender two-run lead. Thanks to a second hundred from Kallis, South Africa managed to salvage a draw.
Jacques Kallis, 161 and 109 not out at Newlands, 2010-11
There have been three people who have scored twin tons in India-South Africa encounters: the first two were Kirsten and Amla – both mentioned above; the third was also a South African – perhaps the greatest they have ever produced.
Kallis had walked out at 34 for two in the first innings at Newlands; he had seen the Indian seamers, Zaheer, Sreesanth, and Ishant bowl his side for 362; with nobody else crossing 60 Kallis carved out yet another masterpiece of 161, scored in 291 balls and 459 minutes with nine fours and a six. He was eventually last out trying to seek a desperate single to protect Tsotsobe and ended up being caught-behind off Zaheer.
An epic contest between Tendulkar and Steyn resulted in India squeezing out a two-run lead. The pitch provided turn, and Harbhajan soon reduced the hosts to 64 for four with a spell of 3.2-0-8-4. With de Villiers and Prince also falling cheaply to the seamers South Africa seemed to be in tatters at 130 for six.
The Indian bowlers had smelled blood: one blow after another landed on the South Africans, but they were met with the same broad bat that had protected the nation for a decade-and-a-half. The experience of Boucher also came handy, and the pair set out to frustrate the Indian bowlers.
Both men were aware that survival was not enough for the hosts: Boucher eventually fell for an 82-ball 55 when Dhoni decided to experiment with Tendulkar; the pair had added 103 in 195 balls. Dhoni brought back his specialist bowlers, but Kallis hung on, with Steyn for company.
Kallis carried on even after Harbhajan accounted for Steyn after a 54-run partnership; the hundred came up in 227 balls with a flick off Harbhajan; he then added 46 with Morkel before the latter succumbed to Harbhajan as well. Tsotsobe did not last, and Kallis was eventually left stranded on 109; he had, however, seen South Africa to the safety of 341.
India needed 340 to score in a single day, but Sehwag’s early dismissal and Gambhir’s injury meant that they went into a shell; they finished with 166 for three, and the series ended in a draw.
(Abhishek Mukherjee is a cricket historian and Senior Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He generally looks upon life as a journey involving two components – cricket and literature – though not as disjoint elements. A passionate follower of the history of the sport with an insatiable appetite for trivia and anecdotes, he has also a steady love affair with the incredible assortment of numbers that cricket has to offer. He also thinks he can bowl decent leg-breaks in street cricket, and blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in. He can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ovshake42)
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