Proteas in with a chance of victory on final day

2013-12-30 08:42

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India: 334 and 68/2 (Pujara 32*, Dhawan 19, Philander 1/9, R Peterson 1/23)

South Africa: 500 all out (Kallis 115, De Villiers 74, A Petersen 62, R Peterson 61, Jadeja 6/138, Zaheer Khan 2/97)

India trails by 98 runs

Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli will have to bat out two sessions on the fifth and final day of the second test to make the game safe for the visitors.

They have been India’s in-form batsmen of the tour and much will depend on them to take India to safety today. Pujara looked the part in his resolute 90 minute stay at the crease yesterday.

He did not look like he was about to get out and the Proteas will have to dislodge him, along with Kohli, very early if they are to hold any hopes of forcing a victory.

They were able to prise out the openers, with Vernon Philander and Robin Petersen taking the crucial wickets. Philander persuaded Murali Vijay to tickle one to first slip while Du Plessis pulled off one of the catches of the year to get rid of an oddly obdurate Shikhar Dhawan.

India was intent on one thing and it was survival. Even the flashy Kohli shelved his strokes and settled for the singles and twos to whittle down the deficit. His attacking shots were reined in for the short term but how long that lasts remains to be seen. Batting to save a game is a part of Kohli’s forte that has not been tested.

It was necessary after an explosive 110-run partnership between Du Plessis and Peterson on day four. The latter was at the heart of the attack, making a rapid 50 in only 44 balls.

It was exactly what the Proetas needed as they were crawling for the best part of the day. Jacques Kallis set them up for the attack, though, as he scored his 45th and what many would say is his last test century.

It was compiled in a Kallis-style innings of 273 balls but in the scheme of the game, it was an important innings. The early momentum was provided by the feisty Dale Steyn, who motored to a carefree 44 as night-watchman. It shifted the game decisively in the Proteas’ favour.

Plays of the day

An ancient ball and a superb catch were the highlights of day four, which was the best day of the test match so far.

The ball change

It is normal for teams to persist with the old ball until stumps to keep the new ball fresh for the next morning. MS Dhoni though went one step further in keeping the ball for 146.1 overs, which was 14 overs short of getting the third new ball.

His pace bowlers did not look too happy and they were saved by umpire Steve Davis, who decided that enough was enough. The ball looked liked it was a dog’s breakfast.

Ouch

Close in fielders are in the battles at all times, which warrants protection. However, the hands remain exposed and it was Hashim Amla’s left hand that took the impact of a full-blooded shot from Cheteshwar Pujara.

When cameras zoomed in, it did not look good at all and that was Amla’s deed for the day done.

Got him

AB de Villiers has been the star when it comes to catches but Faf du Plessis’ effort to get rid of Shikhar Dhawan will take some beating. Dhawan chanced his arm and tried to clear midwicket.

He middled the ball but the elevation was not right. Du Plessis leapt up and pouched the ball, leaving Dhawan stunned and disbelieving. He hung around, checking for the no ball and eventually trudged off unwillingly.

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