Crocked Kallis keeps SA in charge

2011-01-04 00:00

STRAINED muscles and all, Jacques Kallis stood firm amidst the morning mayhem before hitting the accelerator in a mightily important 161, as South Africa ended day two against India 220 runs to the good at Newlands yesterday.

“It’s always nice to contribute, especially when the team needs it in a big game like this,” Kallis said of his 39th Test hundred, which helped the Proteas to a much healthier 361 all out.

That Kallis batted whilst suffering from a muscle strain, after being struck by Ishant Sharma in the ribs late on day one, made his latest collector’s item all the more valuable.

At one stage, the Proteas had crashed to 283 for eight, as a rampant S Sreesanth claimed an excellent five-for, bowling with great control and decent pace.

“There is still a lot in the wicket for the bowlers, and hopefully we can get a couple of wickets in the morning (today) and put the Indians under pressure,” Kallis added.

The Proteas had begun the day on 232 for 4, and made a brisk beginning to the morning, as 30 runs were added in the six overs preceding the new ball becoming available.

Ashwell Prince and Kallis looked to take the game to the tourists, but Sreesanth produced an absolute snorter to get rid of Prince for 47.

“That’s the best ball I have ever bowled, I think,” Sreesanth admitted after the day’s play.

It was a fine one, indeed, tailing in and conveniently by-passing Prince’s hopeful drive, before clipping the top of off-stump.

And he wasn’t quite done, as more movement saw Mark Boucher back in the hut off his first ball, caught behind by MS Dhoni.

It was fine stuff from Sreesanth, and he deservedly got his fifth wicket as Morne Morkel tried to hit him into the neighbouring brewery, but only succeeded in getting a tickle to Dhoni.

At 283 for 8, the Proteas were on the brink of folding before 300 even, with Kallis still stranded in the naughty 90’s.

But the obdurate Paul Harris started the repair job which was carried on by Lonwabo Tsotsobe, with Kallis providing considerable gloss with some fine strokes upon reaching his ton.

Kallis and Harris added 27, before South Africa’s premier batsman eked out a crucial stand of 52 with Tsotsobe.

Those contributions may seem minor, but they may yet be decisive in a series that has been tighter than most pockets after the festive season.

Kallis was the last man out, caught behind as he tried to slash Zaheer Khan past point.

India, irritated by the Proteas’ late resistance, were soon in trouble as Sehwag was snaffled superbly by a sprawling Graeme Smith at mid-off, before Rahul Dravid was run out in bizarre fashion. Gautam Gambhir had slashed Tsotsobe towards Alviro Petersen at gully, but the opening bat couldn’t hang on to what was a tough chance. In the ensuing traffic, Dravid tried to scuttle through fro a cheeky single, but AB de Villiers’ sharp pick-up and throw caught the veteran just short of his ground.

It was a costly, unnecessary misjudgment from Dravid, and meant Sachin Tendulkar came to crease under the cosh at 28 for 2. But, as he is prone to do, the Little Master rode out the storm, before starting to spray some fine strokes around Newlands.

Gambhir ought to hit the nearest casino this week, so charmed was his existence.

After the tough chance to Petersen, Gambhir again offered another chance late in the day when on 59, this time to a leaping De Villiers at third slip.

Tsotsobe was again the luckless bowler, as India ended an attritional day on 142 for 2, on the back of a fine, unbroken stand of 114 between Gambhir (65) and Tendulkar (49).

As common as it is starting to sound, this morning’s exchanges will again be pivotal. India, with two, set batsmen at the crease, will be looking to wear down an attack that will be missing Kallis.

The Proteas,with a lead of 220, will know that a few early wickets will give their illustrious opponents plenty to think about on a pitch with plenty of encouragement still.

SCOREBOARD

South Africa first innings (overnight 232-4)

A. Petersen c Dhoni b Ishant21

G. Smith lbw b Zaheer6

H. Amla c Pujara b Sreesanth59

J. Kallis c Dhoni b Zaheer161

A. de Villiers c Dhoni b Sreesanth26

A. Prince b Sreesanth47

M. Boucher c Dhoni b Sreesanth0

D. Steyn c Pujara b Zaheer0

M. Morkel c Dhoni b Sreesanth8

P. Harris c Pujara b Ishant7

L. Tsotsobe not out8

Extras (b-1 lb-6 nb-11 w-1)19

TOTAL (all out, 112.5 overs)362

Fall of wickets: 1-17 2-34 3-106 4-164 5-262 6-262 7-272 8-283 9-310.

Bowling: Zaheer 29.5-6-89-3 (nb-2), Sreesanth 29-0-114-5 (nb-6, w-1), Ishant 27-6-77-2 (nb-3), Harbhajan 27-3-75-0.

India first innings

G. Gambhir not out65

V. Sehwag c Smith b Steyn13

R. Dravid run out5

S. Tendulkar not out49

Extras (lb-8, w-1, nb-1)10

TOTAL (two wickets, 50 overs)142

Fall of wickets: 1-19 2-28

To bat: V. Laxman, C. Pujara, M. Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh,

Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, S. Sreesanth.

Bowling (to date): Steyn 13-4-31-1, Morkel 14-3-46-0 (nb-1, w-1), Tsotsobe 12-3-28-0, Harris 11-2-29-0.

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