Proteas have mountain to climb against India

2013-12-21 15:37

India: 280 and 421 (Pujara 153, Kohli 96, Kallis 3/68, Philander 3/68)

South Africa: 244 and 38/0 (Petersen 28*, Smith 9*)

South Africa needs 420 more runs to win

South Africa moved cautiously to tea on day four as they embark on a world record chase at the Wanderers. The openers proceeded without loss even though there was a scare for Graeme Smith.

The captain got a life when Virat Kohli could not hold on to a sharp chance at short fine leg off Zaheer Khan when Smith was on 1. From then on, the openers were largely untroubled but they still have a mountain to climb.

The Proteas had no one to blame but themselves as they chase a massive 458 to win. The highest successful fourth-innings total belongs to the West Indies, who reeled in Australia’s 417 at the Antigua Recreation Ground in 2003 – a ground renowned for aiding and abetting the pleasures of batsmen.

A fourth-day Wanderers surface with a huge crack on a length outside the right handers offstump from the Corlett Drive end will not make batting easy. The hotter it gets, the more it will open up.

For a change, the Indian tail wagged vigorously. It was led by the feisty Khan, who spanked the game’s only two sixes so far. The first was a bunt over cover off Imran Tahir with the second one being a West Indian-style lofted drive over deep extra cover off the listless Dale Steyn, who conceded a bowler’s century.

He finished with an unbeaten 31-ball 29, helping him avoid the dreaded pair, something which India’s last three wickets did successfully. They were all dismissed for ducks in the first innings.

In total, India’s last three wickets raised 52, which are important in the context of the chase as they are the kind of runs that wear down a team mentally.

There was no sign of a declaration from MS Dhoni.

All the wickets, except that of Ishant Sharma, who was out leg before to an Tahir googly, fell under the premise of chasing quick runs.

Dhoni holed out to Dean Elgar at deep point off Vernon Philander for 29.

Ravichandran Ashwin patted Philander to JP Duminy at point while Mohammed Shami’s castle was disturbed while trying to slap Tahir out of the ground.

The latter two hit solitary boundaries each; both important to India’s cause.

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