Port Elizabeth: Deep Dasgupta and Rahul Dravid earned a draw for India when they shared a 171- run second wicket stand on the fifth and final day of the second Test against South Africa at St Georges Park on Tuesday.India, set to make an improbable 395 to win, was 206 for three when bad light stopped play with 10.4 overs due to be bowled. An earlier 75-minute break for bad light and rain had cut a further 19 overs of play. The result meant that the teams go into the third and final Test at Centurion starting on Friday with the series undecided. South Africa won the first Test in Bloemfontein by nine wickets. India will go into the final match without Virender Sehwag, who made a century on his Test debut in Bloemfontein. Sehwag, one of six players controversially disciplined by match referee Mike Denness, was suspended for one match for excessive appealing, intimidating an umpire and using abusive language during Sundays play. The emotion generated by the action taken against the Indian players, including Indian star Sachin Tendulkar, who was fined 75 percent of his match fee for interfering with the match ball while he was bowling, threatened to overshadow the action on the field. The results of the disciplinary hearings were announced shortly before the start of the final days play. But Dravid and Dasgupta produced an outstanding batting performance to bolster Indian pride. Dasgupta, who was fined 75 percent of his match fee for excessive appealing and intimidating the umpire, made 63, while Dravid made 87 before he was caught behind off Mornantau Hayward in the fifth over with the second new ball. By that stage the light was poor and at the end of the over the umpires offered the batsmen the chance to go off. Rain started falling soon afterwards but it cleared and a further 11.2 overs were bowled during which Dasgupta was caught at second slip off Hayward. Dasgupta and Dravid, who came together after Shaun Pollock took a wicket in the first over of the final innings Monday, batted for more than five hours. The pair played solidly but cautiously as they scored at barely two runs an over, with victory clearly not a realistic option. South Africa had high hopes of clinching the three-match series when play started under sunny skies despite a weather forecast that there was an 80 percent chance of rain showers. But the South African bowlers were unable to make any impression on two determined batsmen with the pitch not offering the bowlers any unusual assistance. Because of time lost to rain and bad light earlier in the match, a theoretical minimum of 105 overs was available to the South African bowlers. Dravid, playing in his 50th Test, had made only 15 runs in his first three innings of the series, but he played an innings more in keeping with a man who has a career Test batting average above 50. He made his 87 in 312 minutes, facing 241 balls and hitting 12 fours. Dasgupta, 24, showed skill and impressive temperament as he made his maiden Test half-century. Playing in only his second Test, the Indian wicket-keeper was pushed into service as an emergency opening batsman. Dasgupta ducked into a bouncer from Jacques Kallis and was struck on the back of his batting helmet when he had 32 and survived close lbw appeals by left-arm spinner Nicky Boje and Pollock. But he was seldom troubled in a marathon innings of 322 minutes, during which he faced 270 balls and hit seven fours. Despite doubts about the potency of South Africa's bowling, which has relied almost entirely on Pollock, the selectors announced an unchanged squad for the final Test. It means the bowling will be unchanged with the only possible change in the starting team being the inclusion of batsman Jacques Rudolph for Boeta Dippenaar. Pollock took 16 of the 33 wickets claimed by South Africa in the first two Tests.
| Copyright AFP 2001 |