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Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Report: South Africa vs India, 2nd Test, Day 5 - INDIA Tour SA


With a 10-wicket win in the second Test – legendary all-rounder Jacques Kallis’ last – South Africa claimed the series 1-0. While the No.1 Test side dominated for the better part of the weather-affected match in Durban, the MS Dhoni-led side put up a fight in an attempt to stay in the game. A valiant 96 by Ajinkya Rahane on the last day ensured that the Proteas batted for a second time even if it was to chase down a paltry 58-run target. Captain Graeme Smith and Alviro Petersen then attained the total in 11.4 overs just after tea. 

Earlier, trailing by 98 runs, India began their quest to first save the game when they came out to the middle on the morning. However, Dale Steyn struck off the first ball of the day to send Virat Kohli back. The fast-bowler almost had Rohit Sharma off the second ball, but the ball landed just short of short mid-wicket. In his next over, Steyn claimed the mainstay of the young Indian batting line-up, Cheteshwar Pujara. With two wickets off two overs, Steyn had backed India in to a corner and further dimmed their chances of a pulling off a draw. 

Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane then strove to negotiate Steyn and Morne Morkel steaming in from both ends. While Rohit had hooked Steyn to the boundary, Rahane had driven him beautifully through the covers to collect four. When Graeme Smith replaced Morkel with Robin Peterson, Rohit danced down the track and launched him over long-off for a six. The pair had stitched a 33-run partnership until Vernon Philander struck and trapped Rohit leg-before to end it. 

With half his side back in dressing room for 104 runs, MS Dhoni joined Rahane. But with India still 20 runs behind, Dhoni hit Peterson to mid-wicket and returned to the dressing room. With India struggling, Ravindra Jadeja walked out to the middle and after dispatching Peterson over long-off for a six, he followed his captain back to the hut. Morkel took the catch that stung his palms to leave India tottering on 154 for seven. 

After the double-blow, Zaheer Khan joined the youngster in the middle and supported Rahane in overcoming the deficit. The No.6 batsman rallied on and struck some majestic drives as he fought to take India forward. Carrying forward from where had left off in the first innings Rahane notched up another 50 in the match in the last over before lunch. He took India to lunch on 173 for seven. With five wickets from the session, South Africa had wrecked the Indian middle order to seize complete control of the match. 

The first runs of the second session came with Rahane hitting the ball over Steyn’s head to the ropes. Batting sensibly, he farmed the strike as he worked to extend India’s innings. Although Morkel posed a few questions, Steyn too hit the deck hard early in the session. Bowling full, Philander too beat the batsmen as the hosts strove to bowl the visitors out. The pacers kept the batsmen on a tight leash by bowling fast and accurate. 

Zaheer was eventually given out leg-before to Peterson to halt the eighth-wicket partnership for 35. With the lead all of 23 runs, Ishant Sharma made his way to the crease. Rahane meanwhile continued to anchor the innings and even sent Peterson over the long-on boundary. 

While Rahane grafted runs, Ishant supported him for a few overs before Steyn accounted for the tail-ender’s wicket with the second new ball. With Rahane on 81, Mohammed Shami replaced Ishant in the middle. 

Rahane inched forward and soon reached his 90 with a boundary off Philander and then slammed him over point for six more. However, a ball later, on the last ball of the over, he was bowled four short of what would have been a maiden ton. While Philander celebrated having wrapped up the Indian innings for 223, Rahane received a pat on the back from Smith for his fighting knock in adverse conditions. 

To attain the modest target, Smith and Petersen took guard and took the hosts to 19 without loss when tea was taken. They then cruised to victory in the last session. 

Man of the Match: Dale Steyn for his match-winning figures of 9/147

Man of the Series: AB de Villiers for his excellent wicket-keeping and crucial century in the first Test

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