Kallis stands tall in Durban

Jacques Kallis (Gallo)
Jacques Kallis (Gallo)
Durban - Jacques Kallis settled the Proteas down one more time as a battle of cat and mouse for the first innings advantage between South Africa and India took centre stage on the third day of the second Test at Kingsmead on Saturday.

Following an opening stand of 103 between Graeme Smith and Alviro Petersen in pursuit of India’s first innings total of 334, the Proteas were rocked back on their heels by the loss of both these players as well as Hashim Amla for the addition of only 10 runs that saw them struggling at 113/3 on a pitch that was giving considerable assistance in the way of turn and bounce to left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja.

In the end they would have been more than happy to finish the day on 299/5 before bad light and rain brought play to a halt an hour before the scheduled close. This left them with a deficit of only 35 runs with Kallis still at the crease on 78 (224 balls, 10 fours) and the Bidvest Wanderers hero, Faf du Plessis, still to bat.

Kallis was involved in two good stands – 127 for the fourth wicket in 44 overs with AB de Villiers (74 off 117 balls, 9 fours) and 58 for the fifth wicket in 30 overs with JP Duminy (28 off 82 balls, 4 fours).

While Kallis and De Villiers were together the Proteas looked to be in cruise control. Kallis twice walked down the wicket to hit Jadeja back over his head for boundaries to open up the field and make singles more readily available.

As always the dominant feature of his innings was his cover driving as well as his signature punch off the back foot square of the wicket.

The Indian side (both those on the field as well as the substitutes) and the umpires, as well as his batting partner, Petersen, paid tribute to him by forming a guard of honour as he came out to bat, possibly for the last time in a Test match. It probably helped him that he was not immediately on strike as it must have been an emotional moment, even for this man of such even and unflappable temperament.

He took his time to get off the mark and one could sense that he was setting himself up for a big innings. Just how big it is going to be remains to be seen on tomorrow’s fourth day.

Apart from switching ends on two occasions Jadeja bowled virtually unchanged throughout the day. He was always posing problems for the batsmen, even when Kallis and De Villiers were going well, and his control of line and length was immaculate.

The balls that accounted for Petersen (62 off 100 balls, 8 fours) and De Villiers were classic left-arm spinner dismissals, both caught at slip.

He took four of the five wickets to fall (4/87 in 37 overs) and enabled MS Dhoni to rotate his three seamers from the other end.

With Jadeja in control and the batsmen struggling to get the soft ball away Dhoni declined to take the second new ball and it paid dividends when Jadeja trapped Duminy leg before wicket an over before rain drove the players from the field.

The Indian team stuck diligently to their task all day and impressed both with their out-cricket - this is the best Indian fielding team ever to visit South Africa - and their ability to get through their overs comfortably ahead of the required rate.
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