South Africa close to crushing win over India

Published: Saturday, April 5, 2008, 15:54 [IST]
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India faced a demoralising defeat in the second Test against South Africa here on Saturday after crashing to pace for the second time in the match.

Trailing by 418, the hosts were struggling at 191-4 in their second innings at tea on the third day after their top-order batting struggled against an inspired South African pace attack on a good track.

Sourav Ganguly (59) and wicket-keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (28), the last pair of specialist batsmen, were the not-out batsmen at the break.

Morne Morkel grabbed two wickets, while Makhaya Ntini and Jacques Kallis took one apiece to expose Indian batting weaknesses against pace as they never allowed the top-order batsmen to settle.

South Africa earlier declared their first innings closed at their overnight total of 494-7 in reply to India's paltry 76.

The South African pacemen, who took just 20 overs to bundle India out in the first innings, returned to haunt the hosts when they grabbed three quick wickets in the morning session and one in the afternoon.

India's problems began when Ntini trapped hard-hitting opener Virender Sehwag (17) leg-before with a delivery that came in sharply, ending the batsman's brief flourish.

Sehwag, who hammered the fastest recorded triple-century in Tests in the drawn opening match in Chennai, went for big shots from the beginning as he punished paceman Dale Steyn with two sixes in the morning's opening over.

India suffered a big setback when they lost former captain Rahul Dravid, famed for playing long innings. Dravid was undone when on 17 by a rising ball from Morkel, with AB de Villiers holding the catch at third slip.

Opener Wasim Jaffer nearly fell in Morkel's opening over when he fended off a rising delivery, but short-leg fielder Hashim Amla could not reach the ball just behind the stumps, despite making a fine diving attempt.

Jaffer (19) did not survive long, edging Kallis to De Villiers in the slips to leave his team tottering at 70-3.

The South African pacemen continued to maintain pressure on India, with Morkel having Venkatsai Laxman (35) caught behind in the afternoon session to reduce the hosts to 125-4.

There was respite from pace for the Indian batsmen in the afternoon when skipper Graeme Smith pressed lone spinner Paul Harris into the attack for the first time in the match.

Left-arm spinner Harris went wicketless in his 11 overs as Ganguly and Dhoni batted defiantly to add 66 for the unfinished fifth-wicket stand.

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