Das and Laxman hold fort; India 96/1

Published: Tuesday, November 6, 2001, 3:55 [IST]
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Bloemfontein: Lance Klusener hammered a century as South Africa took a first innings lead of 184 on the third day of the first Test against India at Springbok Park here on Monday.

India went more than halfway towards wiping out the deficit, however, scoring 96 for one by close of play, with Shiv Sunder Das making an unbeaten half-century in a stand of 67 with Venkatsai Laxman. It was a spirited batting performance by the Indians after Rahul Dravid had been dismissed early for the second time in a match in which batsmen have prospered on a pitch with pace and bounce, aided by a fast outfield. Klusener raced to his first half-century in eight Tests off just 41 balls. The bludgeoning left-hander could not maintain such a hectic scoring rate but he reached his fourth Test century off 118 deliveries with 18 fours. Klusener and wicketkeeper Mark Boucher halted an Indian fightback in which the tourists took three wickets for 50 runs in the first 20 overs of the day, with fast bowler Javagal Srinath taking two wickets off successive balls to reach 200 Test wickets in 54 matches. The tempo of play during the morning was in marked contrast to the previous day when South Africa raced to 327 for three at better than four runs an over. But the scoring rate picked up again as Klusener and Boucher put on 121 for the seventh wicket in 110 minutes. Boucher made 47 before he became Srinaths fourth victim of the innings, edging a lifting delivery to Dravid at first slip. Srinath finished with five for 140. Only 32 runs were scored in the first hour as leg-spinner Anil Kumble and left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan kept Jacques Kallis and Boeta Dippenaar in check. Surprisingly, though, Indian captain Sourav Ganguly did not call for the second new ball which was due at the start of play. When the new ball finally was taken after 94 overs it brought a dividend after just three overs. Ashish Nehra forced Kallis onto the back foot, the ball lifted sharply and Kallis was caught by Laxman at second slip. Kallis was out for 68, ending a sequence in which he scored 456 runs and batted for a world record 1241 minutes since his previous Test dismissal against the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica, in April. Dippenaar made 20. Five boundaries were his only scoring strokes in 62 balls before he played down the wrong line against a ball from Srinath which straightened off the pitch and hit his off-stump. Srinath struck again with his next delivery when South African captain Shaun Pollock was caught by Das at short leg. Klusener ended a lean spell of batting form at Test level. In 11 previous innings he had scored only 110 runs. It was a return to the aggressive Klusener who was man of the tournament at the 1999 World Cup as he hit out boldly. He had some luck with shots which flew off the edge out of reach of fielders. When he was on 83 an attempted hook against Srinath sailed off a top edge over a leaping wicketkeeper, Deep Dasgupta. Das, on his 24th birthday, was dropped off the second ball he faced from Pollock at the start of the second innings when he top-edged a cut. Wicketkeeper Boucher leapt and got the fingertips of his gloves to the ball, which went on for four. The little opener took full advantage of his good fortune as he went to his half- century off 78 balls with 11 fours. The only wicket to fall was that of makeshift opener Dravid, who was caught at gully off Pollock for 11. Pollock conceded 12 runs off his first over, including the edged four by Das, but then bowled superbly, taking one for four in his next six overs. Pollock beat Laxman five times in two overs before the batsman had scored but Laxman settled down and finished the day on 25 not out.

AFP Copyright AFP 2001

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