Class of Kallis saves the Proteas

2010-01-04 00:00

NOT for the first time in his illustrious career, Jacques Kallis kept South Africa in a key Test match as his undefeated 108 rescued the Proteas from a parlous 127 for 5, to end the day on a healthier 279 for 6 on another enthralling day of Test cricket.

For a brief moment, as the jack-in-the-box Graeme Swann struck twice in as many balls, the series looked very much in jeopardy for Graeme Smith’s charges.

But Kallis has been here before, and it was typical that his partner in the rescue act was the tough-as-nails Mark Boucher.

Kallis’s polished, 33rd Test century rightly hogs the headlines over breakfast today, but the nuggety Boucher delivered when his country most needed him.

You could sense from England’s abundant joy at the fall of JP Duminy, after a solitary ball, that they felt their moment to strike decisively had come.

From all sorts of strife, Boucher and Kallis stuck to the task and actually upped the scoring rate in the face of immense pressure, adding 89 and a dose of defiance to proceedings.

When Andrew Strauss sent the Proteas in under cloudy skies, the message was clear.

England fancy themselves against a currently brittle local middle order.

Indeed, the shots offered by Ashwell Prince and Duminy offered about as much mettle as a Milky Bar in a microwave.

They simply melted in the heat of battle. It is a major concern for South Africa, especially as Prince has offered as much enthusiasm to opening as Inzamam ul-Haq ever showed for quick singles.

It is a recipe for disaster, because South Africa’s opening stands have been non-existent.

Prince has only once looked the part at the top of the order, in a dead rubber against the Aussies. That was a selection based on circumstances, with Smith injured and Neil McKenzie woefully out of form.

Now what?

To be fair to the Proteas, a rampant English attack in overcast conditions was always going to be a handful. And, in all honesty, it could have been much worse.

Smith was given a life on one and though he only made 30, it may all have been very different had he and Prince taken the same taxi back to the changing room.

As it was, he toiled manfully with Hashim Amla — who again missed a straight delivery — before being undone straight after lunch.

AB de Villiers and Kallis batted briskly, but again the Pretoria dasher fell just when he looked set to take the game away.

He had been skipping merrily down the wicket to Swann all day, but was beaten in the flight by a bowler in the form of his life.

Duminy, however, is at the other end of the self-belief scale.

Confidence is a priceless commodity at the top, and Duminy seems to have used it all up in the helter-skelter of Twenty20 cricket.

His departure saw two of South Africa’s greatest warriors join forces to defy the old enemy.

And spare a thought too for Dale Steyn. Not too long ago, he was battling with Ntini for the number eleven slot. But now he has honed his wielding of the willow, and has earned a well-deserved promotion up the order.

He leaves the ball well, defends diligently and swats the loose stuff away with refreshing confidence.

He will have to do it again this morning, but he could hardly have a better example at the other end.

Yet again, King Kallis rules at Newlands.

SCOREBOARD

Toss: England

South Africa first innings

G Smith c Prior b Anderson30

A Prince c Prior b Anderson0

H Amla lbw Onions14

J Kallis not out108

A de Villiers c Strauss b Swann36

J Duminy c Prior b Swann0

M Boucher lbw Boucher51

D Steyn not out26

Extras (1b, 11lb, 1nb, 1w)14

TOTAL (for 6 wkts)279 - 83.2 overs

Fall of wickets: 1-1, 2-46, 3-51, 4-127, 5-127, 6-216.

Bowling: Anderson 20-1-62-2 (1nb, 1w), Onions 18.2-3-60-1, Broad 19-6-54-1, Swann 22-1-74-1, Pietersen 4-0-17-0.

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