By Nishad Pai Vaidya
Dec 29, 2013
The stage was made for Jacques Kallis to bid good-bye to Test cricket and he did it in some style with his 45th Test ton against India in the second Test at Durban. South Africa ultimately finished on 500 with Kallis scoring 115 and some other vital contributions coming from Alviro Petersen and AB de Villiers. This has given South Africa a lead of 166 as they bowled India out for 334 in their first innings.
South Africa began their innings late on Day Two and a solid opening stand between the openers saw then end the day at 82 for no loss. Ravindra Jadeja was the only one who troubled the batsmen with his turn. Early on Day Three, he continued to purchase turn and had Graeme Smith caught at square-leg.
Smith charged at Jadeja and the ball hit high on the bat and went in the air on the leg-side. Shikhar Dhawan ran back and took a magnificent diving catch to send Smith back to the pavillion. Soon after, Amla was bowled for three by Mohammed Shami as the ball shaped a little away from him and hit the off-stump. This is Amla’s homeground, but he hasn’t had a good innings here. On this occasion, he was rooted to the crease and it was quite unlike Amla as he is normally behind the line of deliveries well.
Then, Jadeja finally had Petersen as he edged one and was caught by Murali Vijay at first slip. It died on Vijay, but he took a good low catch. Petersen took Vijay’s call and left the ground.
Meanwhile, Jacques Kallis walked out to bat to a standing ovation. The Indian team formed a guard of honour and as Kallis strode out, he shook Dhoni’s hands and thanked him for the gesture. Soon, he was in business and South Africa needed another rescue-act in tandem with AB de Villiers. Both batsmen then stitched together an inspired partnership.
They were driving well and countered Jadeja with the passage of time. De Villiers in particular was on song and took the attack to India. He started piercing the gap through the off-side to Jadeja. But, Kallis dancing down the track and smashing Jadeja over his head was something the crowd cheered wholeheartedly.
By the time of lunch was taken on Day Three, South Africa had recovered and moved to 181 for three.
It was de Villiers who set the stage alive after lunch with some fantastic batting. He quickly moved on to his fifty and was pouncing at every opportunity to score. He got closer to that mark with a cracking cover-drive of Shami. It was a shot that had authority written all over it and a testament to De Villier’s quality.
Kallis too got into his act with a cover-drive off Ishant Sharma for a four. Every run scored by him was cheered by the crowd as they wanted him to finish off on a high. And, after some time, Kallis looked in the zone to do well. He was moving well and getting his feet in the right position. There was only once scare though. As De Villiers dabbed Zaheer to the leg-side, Kallis ran towards the striker’s end. De Villiers hadn’t even started and had to put in the dive as the throw came in at the other end.
After getting to his half century, De Villiers continued his good work and was keeping the scoreboard ticking. However, Jadeja was always in the mix as he continued to turn it away from the right-handers. Having persisted with the line around the off-stump, he finally had his reward when de Villiers edged one to Vijay at first skip. De Villiers had to return for 74. It was the end of a 127-run partnership.
Meanwhile, Kallis got closer to his half century and achieved the mark by driving Jadeja through the off-side for a for a four. There was a huge round of applause as his teammates also stood up. He took his helmet off, wiped his forehead and raised his bat to acknowledge the crowd.
Jadeja continued to get purchase and Dhoni held the new ball back to persist with him. JP Duminy started well by essaying a few fluent strokes through the off-side to pick boundaries.
After tea, all the focus shifted to Kallis and he motored along without any fuss. Dhoni had the option of the new ball but delayed it as Jadeja was getting turn. Duminy was also getting into his stride, but the runs dried up as Jadeja maintained the pressure.
The umpires met and had a look at their light metres and chatted with Dhoni before proceeding. Dhoni persisted with Jadeja and it paid dividends as Duminy went back to one that turned into him and was trapped in front.
It was quite surprising that Dale Steyn walked out in place of Faf du Plessis and only a few overs later, the umpires took them off the ground as it started raining. Kallis led the players off the field as he was given a rousing reception.
After waiting for some time, the umpires called it stumps.
Day Four began with overcast skies around Kingsmead and it was quite surprising that the stands were empty. All eyes were on Kallis and it was quite obvious. South Africa resumed on 299 for five with Kallis on 78. Dhoni continued with Jadeja as he was getting turn and employed his fast bowlers in turns at the other end.
It was largely an attritional game early on as the runs were hard to come by and both batsmen only picked a few singles. Kallis came closer and closer to his ton and the sparse crowd were up on their feet. There was a minor hiccup though as Kallis and Dale Steyn had a mix-up, but both made their ground safely. In between overs, both had a hearty laugh about it.
It was quite surprising that Dhoni continued with the old ball as he could have opted for the newer one with the overcast conditions around. Kallis moved into the 90s with a cracking cover-drive for four and when Jadeja shot one near his legs, he worked it fine to move closer to the milestone.
One could sense the nervousness at Kingsmead. The South African dressing room didn’t move. After defending a few, he finally worked Jadeja to the leg-side and set off for the single and got to his milestone. The helmet came off and the bat pointed to the dressing room. It was a moment that would be etched in memory forever. If only there had been a bigger crowd.
Meanwhile, Steyn then started attacking the Indian bowlers and continued to pick runs as South Africa took a lead. Kallis was gradually moving towards Rahul Dravid’s tally to become Test cricket’s third highest run-scorer.
Kallis did move past Dravid, but then lost his wicket as he attempted a sweep across the line. Instead, he got a top edge and was caught by Dhoni to give Jadeja his fifth wicket. Soon after, Steyn was dismissed when he chased a widish one from Zaheer.
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 334 (Murali Vijay 97, Cheteshwar Pujara 70, Virat Kohli 46, Ajinya Rahane 51*; Dale Steyn 6 for 100, Morne Morkel 3 for 50) 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 166 runs.
South Africa vs India — Live on Ten Cricket
Also on cricketcountry.com