2nd Test: India left facing uphill task in Durban


December 29, 2013

Brief Scorecard: India 334 and 68 for 2 trail South Africa 500 (Kallis 115, Peterson 61, Jadeja 6-138) by 98 runs

December 29, 2013

Brief Scorecard: India 334 and 68 for 2 trail South Africa 500 (Kallis 115, Peterson 61, Jadeja 6-138) by 98 runs

Jacques Kallis signed off with a century, and his team-mates lived through the last 20 runs before lining up to congratulate the allrounder on a career well played

DURBAN: There will be no fairytale ending for India. A maiden Test series win in South Africa is out of the equation, as the visitors stage a grim battle for survival in an effort to go home with honours shared. And the man behind India's predicament is none other than Jacques Kallis, who couldn't have hoped for a better farewell script.

A marathon 393-minute effort, in probably his last Test innings, saw Kallis notch up his 45th Test century and his team take a 166-run lead. After South Africa were all out for 500 after a rain interruption in the final session, the Indian top-order embarked on Mission Survival. They were 68-2 when bad light stopped play with four overs to go, still needing 98 to avoid an innings defeat.

The light was falling, Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel were steaming in, and the pitch had quite a bit to offer. While Steyn was full and straight with a sprinkling of short deliveries, Philander was keeping it well pitched-up. Morkel was just a little short of length, constantly asking questions of the Indian batsmen.

As (6) got drawn to a Philander outswinger and edged it to slips, there was tension in the Indian camp. Dhawan wasn't looking too convincing, but he showed the determination to stick around for two hours. It was a moment of magic by Faf Du Plessis at short mid-wicket that brought about his downfall at the fag end of the day. The left-hander stepped out to left-arm spinner Robin Peterson and looked to play over mid-wicket, but Faf jumped and plucked the ball out of thin air.

Pujara (32 batting), on the other hand, played with a level of confidence and responsibility that has become a trademark of India's new No. 3. He left a lot of balls and played only when he had to, staying alive for a fight on the final day. Virat Kohli (11 batting) looked equally determined during his half-hour vigil at the crease.

But the hero of the fourth day had to be Kallis (115). His wicket was the one Indians were desperate for and they didn't take the new ball to ensure that he doesn't get his runs quickly in the morning session. It could be interpreted as negative strategy, but Dhoni felt Jadeja had a better chance of taking a wicket with the 100-over old ball than his three pacers with the new cherry in overcast conditions.

Kallis was unfazed. He kept pushing the ball into the gaps, took the singles and completed his century with a glance towards fine-leg. Nightwatchman Dale Steyn (44) had gained in confidence at the other end and the two put on an 86-run sixth-wicket partnership that helped South Africa go past the Indian total of 334.

Kallis was finally dismissed top-edging a slog sweep off Jadeja (6-138) and Dhoni caught the skier. Steyn was dismissed soon after by a below-par Zaheer (2-97) and India expected the lead to be less than 100.

But by then, the pressure was off and South Africans Du Plessis and Peterson played with freedom.

Courtesy: PTI