By Nishad Pai Vaidya
Dec 30, 2013
India are staring at a defeat in the second Test against South Africa at Durban. At lunch on Day Five, India were 173 for seven and only seven runs ahead. They started the day on 68 for two and lost wickets in quick time.
Steyn started the session in style as Virat Kohli was dismissed caught behind off the first ball. The ball pitched on a length and climbed on Kohli around off-stump. He merely fended at it and there was a noise as it went past the bat. AB de Villiers collected it cleanly and the umpire ruled it out. Kohli wasn’t happy though as he trudged off to the pavilion. Replays suggested that the ball hit his shoulder and not the bat.
Rohit Sharma then came out to face the music and had to deal with a red-hot Steyn. Soon after, Pujara was bowled by a snorter by Steyn as it left him a touch after pitching on the off-stump. Pujara’s water-tight defence was breached with that fantastic delivery.
Now, it was left to Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit to take India out of trouble. They did play a few good strokes, pulling a few with conviction. However, Rohit and Steyn had an intense verbal battle. Steyn reminded Rohit that he has more runs than him in the series. Rohit retorted by asking him to come to India. It was a bit entertaining and they didn’t cross the line as such.
Robin Peterson was going to be a crucial factor in this Test given Ravindra Jadeja’s performance. It was then that Rohit charged to him and hit him for six over his head. The batsmen were trying to score off Peterson as the seamers kept the pressure at one end.
However, Philander dismissed Rohit as he got one to come back in and trap him plumb in front. Skipper MS Dhoni came in and accelerated the scoring rate as India tried to get closer to South Africa’s lead. Even Rahane was more positive as he drove well and also cut when the chance presented itself. The duo put on a good partnership of 40 and got India close until Dhoni spooned a catch to mid-wicket off Peterson. Bowling from over the wicket, he would pitch it in the rough and cause problems.
Jadeja walked out and smashed his second ball for a six over long-on. The temptation got the better of him as he tried another over mid-off and was caught by Morne Morkel.
Rahane continued his battle with Zaheer holding one end. He essayed some crisp shots, the straight drive off Steyn being the stand-out. Ultimately, he took India marginally ahead as lunch was taken.
India 334 (Murali Vijay 97, Cheteshwar Pujara 70, Virat Kohli 46, Ajinya Rahane 51*; Dale Steyn 6 for 100, Morne Morkel 3 for 50) and 173 for 7 (Cheteshwar Pujara 32, Ajinkya Rahane 50*; Vernon Philander 1 for 9, Robin Peterson 1 for 23) lead South Africa 500 (Graeme Smith 47, Alviro Petersen 62, AB de Villiers 74, Jacques Kallis 115, Robin Peterson 62; Ravindra Jadeja 6 for 138) by 7 runs.
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