India have given South Africa a taste of their own medicine and more. The visitor's attack finally came together to bowl out the hosts for a paltry 131, thus gaining a first innings lead of 74. Harbhajan Singh took 4/10 and Zaheer, finished with figures of 3/36 while Sreesanth and Ishant knocked over one wicket each.
Having fought their way back into the match to leave South Africa reeling at 74/4 before lunch, there was a spring in India's step when they took the field after the break. The pace bowlers stepped up the pressure, bowling a tighter line and tying up Hashim Amla and new batsman Ashwell Prince.
But it was the off-spin of Harbhajan Singh that did the trick in the 26th over. He trapped the dangerous Amla plumb in front for 33 and the Proteas has slumped to 96/5. In the very next over, Zaheer struck for the third time, inducing a fatal inside edge from Prince that crashed into the stumps. The batsman was on his way for 13 and India were on top, having pegged back the hosts to 100/6 in 26.4 overs.
However, India's most dramatic over was yet to come. In the 29th, Bhajji effected a double strike, first getting Dale Steyn brilliantly caught by a tumbling Rahul Dravid in the slips and then having Cheteshwar Pujara at short leg dismiss Paul Harris with an equally spectacular catch.South Africa were looking at the bottom of the barrel at 104/8 in 30 overs.
But the innings was not over yet. Mark Boucher tried to bring about a slight recovery with Morne Morkel. But Ishant nipped their plans in the bud when he had Morkel caught by a running Harbhajan Singh at fine leg. In teh very next over, the catcher had the privilege of finishing off the hosts innings at 131. India had struck back in emphatic style to skittle out the Proteas and establish a sizable lead of 74 runs.
The Proteas' innings got off to a slightly shaky start. Back at the helm of the Indian pace attack, Zaheer got opener Alviro Petersen to edge a ball in the first over. But unfortunately for the bowler, it flew wide of third slip to the boundary.
The other opening bowler Sreesanth, had a poor start. Graeme Smith struck him for a four in the 2nd over and then in the 4th, each batsmen took him for a boundary. But Zaheer avenged Sreesanth's treatment when he got Smith caught behind for 9, from a ball angled across the batsman. The hosts were 23/1 in 5 overs.
Soon Amla unleashed his wrath on a struggling Sreesanth, smacking him for two consecutive fours through the covers as the scoreboard ticked over to 45. But Zaheer struck back in the 11th over, bowling Petersen for 24. South Africa were at the same score with 2 wickets down.
First-change bowler Ishant Sharma, couldn't shirk the ill-form of his previous match, bowling a terrible second over. Jacques Kallis and Hashim Amla each, struck him for a four, taking their side past 50 in just the 12th over. However, although he couldn't get a wicket of his own bowling, he was able to effect a dismissal with his fielding.
Having just been punished for a cover drive from Amla, Ishant bowled a straighter ball which Amla smashed toward the opposite set of stumps, picking up a touch from Ishant finger and catching Kallis outside his crease. The disappointed batsman was on his way for 10 and India were back in the match at 67/3. But that didn't stall Amla in his charge: he straight drove Ishant for another four.
Then coming off a forgetful first spell, Sreesanth finally picked up his first wicket of the tour when he got A B de Villiers caught behind with the perfect ripper, which bounced an moved
away outside off-stump. India would certainly enjoy Lunch now South Africa reeling on 74/4 in 16.4 overs.
The day began on a disastrous note for India who were resuming with their score at 183/6. No sooner had Dale Steyn begun proceedings on Day 2, when he had Harbhajan Singh caught by A B de Villiers at third slip for 21. India were in dire straights at 190/7.
Zaheer Khan may hold the records for the highest averages and scores for a number 11 batsman. But batting at number 8 in this match, he was completely out of his depth and was caught behind for a duck off a special from Morne Morkel. India had not even reached 200 and were already 8 down for 193.
Captain Dhoni, realising that the end of India's innings was imminent, attacked Steyn in the next over. He got the ace pacer away for a four and then in six in successive deliveries. India's score had thus ticked over 200 as Ishant Sharma took guard to face up to Morkel. He played out the 63rd over without incident.
But Steyn who was on roll, had Dhoni caught by Alviro Petersen at deep point in the next over. The captain's valiant knock of 35 had come to an end as India were all set to bowled at 205/9. Last man, Sreesanth wasn't able to add anything to India total, an was out caught behind off Morkel for a duck as India folded for exactly 205.