India have a historic victory to savour! The tourists have bowled out South Africa for 215, thus winning the second Test at Durban by 88 runs and drawing level in the series 1-1.
After four days of enduring a see-saw battle with the Proteas, India finally struck the decisive blow following lunch on Day 4 by claiming the last three wickets of Paul Harris, Morne Morkel and Lonwabo Tsotsobe. It's been an exhilarating encounter with India posting a below-par total of 205 in the first innings, before coming back to bowl out the hosts for 131.
India then went on to extend their lead of 74 to 302 with a spectacular 96-run knock from VVS Laxman standing out as well the 70-run partnership with Zaheer Khan, en route. South Africa decided to take the challenge of chasing the target head on, but after a pacy 63-run opening stand, stumbled to 111/3 at stumps on Day 3, before India reduced the hosts to 182/7 at lunch and then bowled them out eventually for 215 on Day 4. The win now sets up an exciting final Test at Durban beginning Jan 2, 2011.
India could sense victory was coming their way with South Africa resuming their second innings at 182/7 after lunch on Day 4. In just the second over after the break, Zaheer produced an absolute cracker to clip the off-stump of Paul Harris. The batsman had to walk for 7 with his side in deep trouble at 182/8 in 60.2 overs.
No. 9 Morne Morkel played better than that position would warrant, settling in with a four off Harbhajan in the 64th over. Then Prince and Morkel each took a boundary off Zaheer in subsequent overs to take South Africa over 200 in the 67th over. The hosts now trailed by less than a 100 and with Prince batting well and Morkel more than a capable partner, South Africa threatened to sneak home.
But Sharma ended India's agony when he had Morkel caught behind for 20 in the 73rd over. India were all set to square the series as South Africa had been reduced to 215/9. Just two balls alter, last man Lonwabo Tsotsobe was run out and India had won the match by 88 runs. Zaheer had taken 3/57 and Sreesanth 3/45 while Harbhajan had pitched in with two scalps and Ishant Sharma with one. The only real resistance from the South Africa batsmen came from Smith, who made 37, de Villiers who notched up 33 and Prince, not out on 39.
At the start of Day 4, both sides had their work cut out. South Africa had to make another 192 to snatch victory while India had to ensnare 7 more wickets to beat them to it. But the scales began to tilt India's way when after 7 relatively quiet overs, Sreesanth got the breakthrough.
The speedster produced a bouncy delivery that jagged back into Kallis, forcing him to fend tentatively at it and lob up the ball to gully where Virender Sehwag took an easy catch. Kallis was out for 17 and India were fancying their chances just a little more with the South African scoreboard reading 123/4.
Just five and half overs later, Harbhajan sent back the dangerous A B de Villiers for 33 after trapping him in front. The decision by the umpire was debatable as the ball straightened, but hit de Villiers on the knee-roll with television simulation suggesting that it would have gone over the stumps. But de Villiers was on his way and India had pegged back the South Africans to 136/5 in 40 overs.
A couple of overs later, Bhajji came close to getting Mark Boucher out when he had the batsman loft a loopy ball to midwicket, which dropped just short of the fielder. In the next over, Boucher was unlucky to be adjudged lbw to Zaheer Khan in another controversial decision. The Proteas had slipped to 143/6 in 42.4 overs. The new batsman Dale Steyn, edged Bhajji for a streaky four in the next over and then a few overs after that, struck Zaheer for another boundary to third man.
But Steyn's aggressiveness couldn't hold up against the pace and movement of Zaheer. In the 49th over, the paceman induced a thick outside edge from Steyn which went straight into the palms of Cheteshwar Pujara at third slip. South Africa were staring at defeat with the scoreboard showing 155/7.
There was more drama in the following over when Zaheer believed he had got Paul Harris caught off an inside-edge which had apparently bounced off his boot. The third umpire was pressed into service, but gathering from replays that showed the ball had actually come off the surface, he adjudged the batsman not out. South Africa then, went into lunch at 182/7.