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DURBAN: If it turns out to be his last extended day of Test batting service for South Africa, Jacques Kallis wouldn’t be displeased. He may even, for all you know, allow a wan smile to crease through that big weather-beaten face, having extracted his team from potential peril and having placed them in a situation from where they cannot conceivably lose the series – a calamitous result that seemed not very unlikely for over three-quarters of the first Wanderers Test. On Saturday, at Kingsmead, it appeared again that unfancied India were moving into a position of strength through left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja, who toiled through 32 overs for four wickets, before Kallis’ unbeaten 78 rescued the hosts.
South Africa had lost three wickets for 10 runs in the morning, Jadeja threatening to run through the rest on a turning track, when Kallis united for 127 runs with AB de Villiers, whose contribution was a carefree 74. The pair ensured South Africa went to tea just 67 adrift of India’s first innings’ 334, but having won the momentum, they squandered it yet again to Jadeja. The left-armer struck twice more late in the last session to ascertain that at the end of another curtailed day, neither side held the advantage. South Africa were 299/5 at stumps,with Kallis and night-watchman Dale Steyn in service.
In hindsight, Jadeja’s inclusion at the expense of R Ashwin for the second Test was a master-stroke. As is his usual modus operandi, he raced through his overs - he was timed by one zealous follower at 82 seconds for one particular span of six balls - dried up the runs, and gained appreciable turn and bounce. It was the second attribute that got him his first victim. Graeme Smith (47) sought to cart him over the on-side, but got the shot came off the high part of the bat. The ball swirled over midwicket and Shikhar Dhawan ran back to take a spectacular catch on the tumble.
Hashim Amla’s wretched series continued when he misjudged the line of a Mohammad Shami delivery that angled in and shaped away, rattling the off-stick just enough to dislodge the bail. Jadeja struck again on the same score, 113, when he deceived Alviro Petersen (62) with a rising delivery that took the shoulder of his bat for Murali Vijay to dive forward from first slip and snaffle up a sharp chance.
Petersen, on 46 overnight, had earlier survived a close stumping call against the Indian spinner.
Guard of Honour
It was on 113/3 that Kallis walked in to a Guard of Honour by the Indian team and joined the other new batsman in the middle, de Villiers. Both helped themselves into an easy groove, assisted no little by Ishant Sharma and Zaheer Khan, both of whom were struggling to find the right line. Kallis lofted Jadeja over the off-side for boundaries, and, as if to snub detractors of his workmanlike style, executed a couple of gorgeous backfoot drives against Ishant.
Thank to the brisk partnership, South Africa soon eased into an advantage, as de Villiers reached his tenth successive Test fifty. Jadeja engineered another momentum shift when he induced an edge to first slip from de Villiers, and almost immediately the wind went out of South Africa’s sails.
Kallis reached his 150th international half-century and promptly slowed down; Duminy crept forward; the pair added a laborious 58 runs for the sixth wicket, before Jadeja assumed centrestage again, trapping Duminy leg-before for 28 for his fourth wicket of the day. The rain came down on cue, South Africa 35 in the red, India five wickets from batting again, neither team with its nose in front.
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