India all out for 228, set SA target of 303

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Published: Tuesday, December 28, 2010, 17:09 [IST]
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India all out for 228, set SA 303

It seemed like the lunch break had robbed Zaheer Khan of his focus as he was soon out to Paul Harris, when he edged an off-spinner to A B de Villiers at second slip. He was on his way for 27 and India and the tail was well and truly open at 218/8 in 63.4 overs. Ishant Sharma tried to support Laxman to make his century, being on 86 at that point.

But he couldn't hold out much longer and was caught by Hashim Amla at short leg, off Jacques Kallis' bowling, for a duck. India had reached the bottom of the barrel at 228/9 in 70 overs. In fact, that was exactly score they were to be bowled out for when Laxman, on 96, attempted an extravagant cut shot, but instead got an edge to slip off Steyn's bowling. India has thus set South Africa a challenging target of 303 to win the match and take the series.

India began the day by resuming their second innings at 92/4, but had an ominous start. Cheteshwar Puajara was undone in the first over of the day, by a bouncer from Morne Morkel and had to head back for just 10. But then captain M S Dhoni began to stabilise the innings with Laxman. The duo took India past 100 in the 33rd over, with Dhohi striking Morkel for a four to bring up the landmark.

In the next over, the same batsman got aggressive with Dale Steyn, getting him away for two back-to-back boundaries. Dhoni wasn't allowing the bowlers to settle into a destructive grove and counter-attacked at the drop of a hat. He got Steyn, Morkel and Tsotsobe away for a four in each of their next overs. But his belligerent run came to an end in the 42nd over when Tsotsobe had him caught behind for 21. India were looking precarious again at 141/6 in 42 overs.

Harbhajan couldn't meet the pressure of the situation and edged a Morkel delivery to Jacques Kallis at second slip for 4. Later that over, Laxman picked Morkel four a double and took India past the 150-run mark. Laxman reached his 50 by taking a double of Morkel in the 47th over.

He had begun to find a fairly capable partner in Zaheer Khan. The two mixed caution with aggression to take India to a lead of in excess of 250 as the score crossed 176/7. Laxman appeared to have really found his groove, smacking off-spinner Paul Harris for 3 fours and Steyn for 1 as India's score ticked to over 200/7. The batsman's score had climbed to 84 with India at 206/7 in 60 overs.

Shortly afterwards, Zaheer got stuck into Tsotsobe, smacking him for two consecutive fours to round-off the 62nd over as India went into lunch at a healthy 218/7 with the lead at 292. How much more can India hold out and extend their lead? Will Laxman survive to make a century? Will Zaheer make a fifty? Find out after the lunch break.


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