By Nishad Pai Vaidya
Dec 29, 2013
South Africa finished Day Four of the second Test against India on top as they scored 500 in their first innings to take a 166-run lead. In reply, India were 68 for two in their second innings at the end of day’s play. It was Jacques Kallis‘s day as he scored his 45th Test ton to mark his final Test.
The day began with all focus on Kallis. The legendary all-rounder began slowly as the proceedings early on were largely attritional. Dhoni delayed the new ball as he tried to make use of Ravindra Jadeja’s turn. And the left-arm spinner did trouble the batsmen with a few that turned away from them. Dale Steyn held firm at one end with Kallis as he was determined to get to his ton.
Every run scored by Kallis was cheered by the crowd. He moved into the 90s with a good cover-drive and the hundred was in sight when he guided a Jadeja delivery through fine-leg for another four. There was nervousness all-round as the countdown had begun.
Kallis was calm though. Or at least he looked composed. He defended a few and then finally got to the mark with an easy single through the leg-side. There were huge celebrations in the dressing room and he raised his bat for the final time in the whites. Steyn and Kallis helped South Africa take the lead and put them in a good spot before both fell in quick succession. Kallis top-edged a sweep off Jadeja to give him his fifth wicket. Steyn was caught behind by Dhoni off Zaheer Khan.
Du Plessis and Robin Peterson then smashed it around to extend South Africa’s lead. Peterson in particular was attacking as he laced the off-side with numerous cover-drives. Peterson sped away to a half-century with du Plessis for support. He smashed a huge six in the most audacious manner. With Rohit Sharma coming from round the wicket, he changed his footing to become a right hander and then smashed it over the covers for a six.
Ultimately, he skied one off Zaheer and Vijay took a catch running from mid-off. That is when the umpires decided to go off the field as the rain got a bit heavier. Tea was taken early and the players returned as the rains eased. Soon after, South Africa lost their three wickets quickly and Jadeja finished with figures of six for 138.
India started their innings with some hostile bowling from Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander. The ball was moving around and climbing off a length. Both Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay were tested by the bounce and the movement as they survived a few close calls. Dhawan left one that jagged back in so much that it could have taken the off-stump.
Vijay got off the mark confidently and also hit a boundary. However, he was setup by Philander who roughed him up with a few short ones and then bowled one a bit fuller around the off-stump. Vijay poked at it and the edge flew to Graeme Smith at first slip.
In came Cheteshwar Pujara to face the music and was certainly tested by the South Africans. Steyn hit him on the shoulder and a few also climbed off a length to leave him ducking. One ball even hit his chest pad as he tried to shoulder his arms to that one. Dhawan too tempered his approach and was buying his time in the middle.
With the spinner on, both batsmen tried to take their chances. When Peterson pitched it short, Pujara rocked back and smashed it through mid-wicket. Dhawan used his feet and was ready to drive to him. It was that attacking intent that got the better of him as he tried to smash Peterson over mid-wicket. However, du Plessis pulled off a blinder as he flung himself in the air, outstretched his hand and plucked it. It was the end of a fighting performance as he had faced 87 balls for his 19.
Virat Kohli and Pujara battled the spinners from thereon as the light deteriorated and then the players went in 15 minutes before scheduled close of play
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 68 for 2 (Cheteshwar Pujara 32*, Shikhar Dhawan 19; Vernon Philander 1 for 9, Robin Peterson 1 for 23) trail 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 98 runs.
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