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Dale Steyn roared back to form with a six-wicket haul that destroyed India on a rain-curtailed second day of the second Test at Kingsmead here, on Friday. The South African fast bowler, who had gone wicket-less in nearly 70 overs since the first day of the first Test at Johannesburg, made amends for the fruitless patch with a terrific display of sustained speed and aggression. As a result of Steyn's 22nd five-for, India could add just 153 for the loss of nine wickets to their overnight 181/1, and were bundled out for 334 in their first innings, as wicket-keeper AB de Villiers pouched five catches, veteran Jacques Kallis, playing in his last match, took his 200th Test catch, and an unlucky M Vijay missed out on what would have been his first overseas century.
In reply, the South African openers Alviro Petersen (46*) and Graeme Smith (35*) had taken their team to a solid 82 without loss at close, the deficit standing at 252 runs, three days remaining in the game.
Persistent rain and a wet outfield had earlier obliterated the whole first session, delaying play by over three hours. But once things resumed one would have been hard-pressed to find a trace of cloud in the brilliantly blue sky. Immediately, Steyn began a correction of his extended drought with three wickets in five hair-raising overs of sheer pace. Both overnight batsmen, Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara, were tested straight up as they edged nervously past the slip cordon on more than a few occasions. It was in the sixth over of the afternoon – morning having dissipated into day – that Steyn snared Pujara for 70, the batsman showing a great reluctance to move his feet as he poked through for a catch to the wicket-keeper.
Vijay misses ton
Vijay’s lot was even more unfortunate. Nine tantalizing runs away from a first away ton at the premature close of play on Thursday, the Chennai opener had reached 97, and no further, when he was deprived, courtesy a Steyn bouncer that he gloved down the legside to de Villiers. On the next delivery, the new man Rohit Sharma did an ‘Amla’ by not offering a shot to one that reversed fatally into his middle stump, and went for a golden duck.
Steyn was steaming in now. He nailed Ajinkya Rahane twice with the second new ball – once on the helmet, then on the shoulder – and kept up a good pace. Rahane bade his time and added 66 with Virat Kohli, who looked like he was in the same touch that had almost brought him back-to-back hundreds at the Wanderers. Kohli pulled and punched Steyn with authority for boundaries and looked totally untroubled, until some ten minutes to the tea interval, when he was bounced out by Morne Morkel for a well-made 46, AB snatching a sensational leaping catch on the leg-side.
Rahane's fifty, India's collapse
India went to tea on 271/5 as Rahane and Dhoni (24) rustled up a brisk stand of 55 on either side of the break. The young Mumbai batsman soon got the measure of his surroundings. He pulled Steyn, upper-cut Morkel, and punished Robin Peterson each time the left-arm spinner landed on the wrong spot, reaching a maiden Test fifty in 112 deliveries. The bottom five of India's batting order, however, caved in like a Corporation overbridge, for just 14 runs in less than five overs.
Steyn induced a fatal nick from the Indian captain; Ravindra Jadeja, playing in R Ashwin’s stead, became Kallis’ 200th Test catch (off JP Duminy), while Zaheer Khan, thanks to another athletic take by AB, had the honour of being the South African speedster’s fifth scalp. Steyn wasn’t finished. He added a sixth in the form of Ishant Sharma, a wicket that gave AB his fifth catch of the innings. Morkel took care of the last man Mohammad Shami, leaving Rahane stranded on 51, his first Test fifty, one that saw him take several body blows, but not back down.
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