New year, same old Kallis

2011-01-03 00:00

IT may be a new year, but it was the same old for South Africa yesterday, as the impregnable Jacques Kallis again put his hand up when the stage called for a hero, chalking up an undefeated 81 in South Africa’s total of 232 for four in 74 overs.

Kallis came to the crease at 34 for two, amidst gloomy skies and even murkier prospects for the Proteas. Had he, or Hashim Amla for that matter, gone early, the tale of the day may well have been very different.

“Jacques kept the innings together on a testing wicket, and he showed his class again,” Hashim Amla commented after the day’s play.

Zaheer Khan and S Sreesanth thrived in favourable conditions, after a mightily relieved MS Dhoni had finally won a toss. He duly invited the Proteas in, and let loose his trio of pacemen.

Khan wasted little time, as he produced a gem to send Graeme Smith packing for the sixth time in nine matches.

Some are suggesting that the left-armer should start calling the Proteas skipper ‘Bugs’, because he has surely become Khan’s proverbial bunny.

To be fair, though, the carrot Khan served up would have got many a left-handed batsman.

It shaped to go away, and then zipped back in off the pitch, trapping Smith right in front. He was walking before the finger got raised.

It was hardly an ideal start for Smith, and the stop-start nature of the morning’s play did no favours for the batsmen.

An early lunch was taken with the Proteas on 21 for one amidst more dreaded drizzle, before Alviro Petersen was caught behind off Ishant Sharma.

Petersen again made a start that promised bigger things, before falling rather tamely as he tried to hit Sharma past mid-on instead of through the covers, and the swinging ball got the better of him.

Another break halted whatever momentum India were building up, and the tourists were slightly frustrated.

“It was favourable conditions, but the breaks didn’t help us because they didn’t allow us to build much momentum,” the colourful Sreesanth said.

Kallis and Amla then added 72 under much pressure, as the Indians sniffed an opportunity to make a decisive incision into the hosts’ middle order.

Amla was particularly cavalier after the second rain delay, though his loose limbs proved to be his undoing.

“I ate a few chocolates during the delay, so I had a bit of a sugar rush when I came back out,” Amla joked.

“But I did get a few bad balls, so I tried to capitalise on them and get some momentum,” he added.

He pulled Sreesanth for six to reach a breezy half-century, but then got carried away. He tried to repeat the deed, and was caught on the square-leg boundary as he top-edged a delighted Sreesanth.

“I was happy when he played the shot which went for six, because it was a bit unusual of him,” Sreesanth explained. “I knew I just had to stay patient, and I was very pleased to get his wicket.”

Kallis kept on going, adding 58 with a becalmed AB de Villiers.

The fluency of Centurion has deserted the dashing De Villiers, but he showed grit as he and the colossal Kallis eked out 58 for the cause.

That’s why it was so surprising when he fell, as Sreesanth produced another late out-swinger to find the edge, and De Villiers departed for 26.

At 164 for four, with India hitting good areas, the Proteas needed another man to join Kallis in the trenches.

It was tailor-made for Ashwell Prince, who has had a quiet time of it lately.

He and Kallis built cautiously at first, but the authoritative driving — especially from Kallis — was soon on display.

They added 68 unbeaten runs, ending the day in brilliant sunshine as the Proteas edged another tough day of Test cricket in this riveting series.

With the new ball six overs away this morning, the Indians will be banking on that being decisive.

The Proteas, as they have for the last 15 years, will be pinning their hopes on a certain JK.


South Africa first innings

A. Petersen c Dhoni b Ishant21

G. Smith lbw b Zaheer6

H. Amla c Pujara b Sreesanth59

J. Kallis not out81

A. de Villiers c Dhoni b Sreesanth26

A. Prince not out28

Extras (b-1 lb-5 nb-5)11

Total (for four wickets, 74 overs)232

Fall of wickets: 1-17 2-34 3-106 4-164.

To bat: M. Boucher, D. Steyn, M. Morkel, P. Harris, L.


Bowling (to date): Zaheer 19-4-62-1 (2nb), Sreesanth

21-0-70-2 (1-nb), Ishant 16-2-39-1 (2-nb), Harbhajan 18-1-55-0.

India: G. Gambhir, V. Sehwag, R. Dravid, S. Tendulkar, V. Laxman, M. Dhoni, C. Pujara, Ishant Sharma, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, S. Sreesanth. — Reuters.

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