1st Test: India eight wickets away from a memorable win

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December 21, 2013

Brief Scorecard: South Africa 244 and 138 for 2 (Petersen 76*) need another 320 runs to beat India 280 and 421 (Pujara 153, Kohli 96)

Hashim Amla was bowled in bizarre fashion, South Africa v India, 1st Test, Johannesburg, 4th day, December 21, 2013

December 21, 2013

Brief Scorecard: South Africa 244 and 138 for 2 (Petersen 76*) need another 320 runs to beat India 280 and 421 (Pujara 153, Kohli 96)

Hashim Amla was bowled in bizarre fashion, South Africa v India, 1st Test, Johannesburg, 4th day, December 21, 2013

JOHANNESBURG: Hashim Amla couldn't believe what had happened to him, nor could South Africa. The best South African batsman was strapping in for the long haul, trying to save the match for his country.

Suddenly, a Mohammad Shami delivery landed in the middle of the pitch and Amla ducked. But to the batsman's surprise, the ball didn't rise, eluded his body as he bent on his knees and took the top of off-stump.

The Indian team celebrations said it all – the biggest hurdle standing in their way of a victory was gone. The light was falling, the Indian bowlers were breathing fire, and a target of 457 looked like a faraway island in the middle of the Pacific. With the theatre getting darker by the minute, the umpires ordered for spinners to be in action for the last seven overs.

Alviro Peterson (batting on 76) and Faf du Plessis (batting on eight), promoted to No. 4 ahead of an out-of-form Jacques Kallis, survived the day as South Africa reached 138-2 at stumps.

After India were bowled out for 421 in their second innings an hour after lunch, the stage was set for the bowlers to work the first-innings magic all over again. Zaheer Khan and Co came out with a plan, they looked to pitch it up with the occasional short ball dug in, but the South African openers Graeme Smith and Peterson hung on.

Even a top edge off Smith's bat flew towards leg-slip Virat Kohli, but the Indian vice-captain couldn't latch on to it despite his best effort. Peterson looked a little more assured, but Ishant Sharma and Shami Ahmed did beat him a number of times outside the off-stump.

Smith set out for a single and Ajinkya Rahane, rushing in, broke down the stumps at the non-striker's end. The captain was off and Amla took guard.

He was looking superbly fluent and even Rahul Dravid, sitting in the press-box, gave a nod of resignation when Amla played a crisp on-drive to the fence. It seemed India were going to struggle with Amla, but a stroke of luck turned things around.

There was no such luck involved though in the way India took control of the match with the bat. Cheteshwar Pujara (153) and Virat Kohli (96) ensured that South Africa couldn't make much headway with the new ball in the morning session.

Dale Steyn was a little wayward with his line and even though Vernon Philander was creating some problems, Pujara and Kohli looked in control. But it was a day when milestones eluded both the players. Sunday will prove whether Dhoni's attempts to be safe have left India with too few overs to bowl SA out.


Courtesy: PTI