Ganguly, Dhoni stave off SA victory charge

Published: Saturday, April 5, 2008, 3:35 [IST]
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Ahmedabad: Sourav Ganguly and Mahendra Singh Dhoni led India's fightback putting on an unbeaten 66 runs for the fifth wicket to stave off South Africa's bid for an early victory as the hosts reached 191 for four wickets at tea on the third day of the second Test being played at the Sardar Patel Gujarat Stadium, Motera here on Saturday.

At the break Sourav Ganguly was batting on 59, while Mahendra Singh Dhoni having being reprieved twice was unbeaten on 28.

India still have a long way to go as they require to make a further 227 runs to make South Africa bat for the second time after conceding a mammoth 418 first innings lead.

India resuming from the lunch score of 95 for three V V S Laxman and Sourav Ganguly the last two of the recognised batsmen for the hosts after they went in with five bowlers for this match, started carefully, picking up the singles and twos which were on offer due to an extremely attacking field.

Laxman was looking good playing some wristy shots, but after making 35, he went for an expansive drive outside the off stump to a ball from Morne Morkel only to see the edge go to wicket keeper Mark Boucher, who made no mistake with the catch to leave

India in deep trouble at 125 for four. Laxman and Ganguly had put on 55 runs for the fourth wicket.

Dhoni then joined Ganguly and the two stuck around to frustrate the South Africans with Ganguly looking extremely solid and determined to stick around for as long as possible.

Dhoni on the other hand was Dhoni playing a few audious shots, but at the same time putting a price on his wicket.

The Indian keeper should have be dismissed when he was on 18 but his hook shot of Morne Morkel was dropped at fine leg by Makhaya Ntini. Again on 24, Mark Boucher missed a stumping of spinner Paul Harris to give Dhoni his second chance.

At the other end, Ganguly who had started shakily before lunch grew in confidence and picked the gaps to a nicety between a few trademark square cuts and square drives to keep the scoreboard moving.

He reached his 50 of just 86 balls having hit five fours in it.

India in the morning began their second innings, after South Africa had declared at the overnight score of 494 for seven, on a positive note, with Virender Sehwag sending first innings tormentor Dale Steyn into the stands for two huge sixes in the very first over. His first six was a hook over fine leg and then two balls later he flicked the bowler into the square leg stands to give India a rousing beginning.

Sehwag then survived a close leg before shout from Makhaya Ntini and then to rub salt into the wounds he flicked the bowler to the square leg boundary for a boundary.

But the Delhi's batsman luck ran out when he played with his bat behind his pads to a ball from Ntini which came back in sharply for the umpire to uphold the appeal this time. Sehwag made 17 in just 20 balls with two sixes and a boundary as India slumped to 31 for one.

Dravid, who then joined Jaffer, looked composed and batted with certainty going forward or back. Jaffer at the other end played with authority and though he was in trouble on a couple of occasions when a ball from Morne Morkel lifted into his rib cage and he fended at it but luckily it fell in no man's land and survived.

He then opened up cracking Morkel for a sublime off side boundary and with Dravid steering Ntini to third man to bring up the side's fifty in the 12th over, India looked like putting up a real fight. But Morne Morkel had other ideas as he got a short one to come in sharply to Dravid who fended at it only to see the ball take the edge and go straight to AB de Villiers at second slip. Dravid made 17 and India were 64 for two.

Laxman, who joined Jaffer, started off confidently with a superb straight drive of Kallis which scorched the turf on the way to the boundary.

However, India once again lost a wicket when least needed when Wasim Jaffer after making 19 got a ball from Kallis which pitched outside off and shaped away after pitching, it was in the slot to drive but Jaffer fails to cover the line, he ends up getting a thick edge to de Villiers at second slip.

At the other end V V S Laxman looked supremely confident as he first punched Morne Pokel of the back foot to the point boundary and then essayed a brilliant on-drive to notch up his third boundary.

Brief Scores:

India 76 and 191/4 (Ganguly 59 n o, Dhoni 28 n o, Laxman 35, Jaffer 19, Sehwag 17, Dravid 17; Morne Morkel 2 for 46, Ntini 1 for 33) Vs South Africa 494/7 decl.


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