Bloemfontein (South Africa): Led by a thrilling century by Herschelle Gibbs, South Africa regained control on the second day of the first Test against India at Springbok Park on Sunday. South Africa raced to 327 for three at close of play in reply to India's first innings of 379 all out. Gibbs (107) and Gary Kirsten (73) put on 189 for the first wicket before they were out in successive overs. But the double breakthrough provided only temporary relief for India as Jacques Kallis and Neil McKenzie shared a third-wicket stand of 130, which was ended when McKenzie was out in the last over of the day. Kallis made 49 not out, following the 388 runs he scored without being dismissed in a series in Zimbabwe in September, and extended his world record time at the crease since he was last out to 1,176 minutes. McKenzie made an impressive 68 off 134 balls. The star of the day was Gibbs, however. It was the second successive day to feature a dazzling century, following Sachin Tendulkar's magical 155 off 114 balls on Saturday. Gibbs suffered only slightly by comparison with the great Indian batsman as he eased to his fourth Test century, and his first in South Africa, off 140 balls. Gibbs reached the mark in style by pulling left-arm pace bowler Zaheer Khan powerfully for six over mid-wicket. It was his second six and he hit 15 fours. At that stage South Africa was in an outstanding position as Gibbs and Kirsten scored freely in their third successive big opening partnership. They put on 256 and 117 against Zimbabwe in Harare and Bulawayo in September. But both batsmen were out soon after Gibbs reached his hundred. Kirsten got a bottom edge to an attempted sweep against leg spinner Anil Kumble and seven balls later Gibbs drove fast bowler Javagal Srinath to mid-off. India's bowling looked threadbare, with veterans Srinath and Kumble the only two to impress. It emphasised the blow India suffered when off spinner Harbhajan Singh was ruled out before the start of the match with a groin infection. India picked two left-arm pace bowlers, Khan and Ashish Nehra, who joined the squad for the Test matches only. Neither had previously played in South Africa and they were denied a warm-up game when a three-day match in Chatsworth, near Durban, was cancelled because of a wet outfield. Nehra started promisingly, troubling Kirsten early on with balls, which swung and moved off the seam, but he took some heavy punishment when the ball lost its early shine. He conceded 17 runs off his 10th over. Nehra made a ball bounce steeply to fly off the handle of Kirsten's bat when Kirsten was on 52. It went over gully for three. Then he was hit for three fours by Gibbs, as well as bowling two no-balls. The two left-armers conceded a total of 153 runs off a combined 28 overs. Kumble took two for 73 in 29.5 overs, which included a first spell of one for 55 in 23 overs. Kumble struck with the fifth ball of the final over when McKenzie got into a tangle and offered no shot to a leg-break which pitched on the line of leg stump and hit the batsman on the back pad. It took South Africa 23 minutes to wrap up the Indian innings at the start of the day, with the tourists adding only seven runs for the loss of three wickets.
| Copyright AFP 2001