India end Day 2 at a sturdy 142/2

Written by: Aprameya C
Updated: Monday, December 3, 2012, 17:24 [IST]
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India end Day 2 at a sturdy 142/2

Riding on the meagre momentum they had garnered before tea, Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir got down to seeing out the new ball after the break. Gambhir picked two runs off Proteas fast bowler Morne Morkel in the 17th over, to take India past 50. Then Tendulkar had a stroke of luck in the next over when he edged Lonwabo Tsotsobe just over the head of Ashwell Prince at third slip, for a four.

After a quiet 19th over, Gambhir dealt with Tsotsobe, Morkel and the off-spinner Paul Harris aggressively, striking each bowler for a bounbdary in successive overs. Then Tendulkar got into the act, clipping Morkel for a four off his pads and then three deliveries later, unleashing a full blooded drive past the bowler for another boundary.

Harris tried hard to tie down Tendulkar, but the batsman responded by skipping down the pitch to a flighted delivery and punching it through the covers for a four. Gambhir then brought up his fifty with a boundary off Tsotsobe through midwicket. India had moved to 98/2 in 26.2 overs. Tendulkar and Gambhir took a single each of Harris in the next over, to make the scoreboard tick up 100.

The batsmen then turned circumspect, just occasionally picking the bowlers for ones and twos, while the boundaries appeared to have dried up. With the score at 131/2 in 44 overs, Gambhir was yet again in for some good fortune. A B de villiers dropped him at second slip off a frustrated Tsotsobe. A chance had gone a begging in a crucial passage of play. The batsmen played out the last couple of overs of the day, without incident and walked off with the score at 142/2 in exactly 50 overs. Tendulkar was not out on 49 and Gambhir, unbeaten on 65.

India have a challenging day ahead of them as the new ball will be due after about 20 overs or so. India still trails by 220 runs, so making up the deficit will be their primary concern. It is crucial that in the event of a semi-collapse, one of these two batsmen will have to go on to hold the innings together as Jacques Kallis did for South Africa. The hosts will naturally be looking for a breakthrough early on. It will be India's task to keep the bowlers at bay.

India's innings started with a couple of major blows. Sehwag had got off the mark in characteristically aggressive fashion, glancing Morne Morkel for a fine-leg boundary before flicking him in front of square for four more, both shots coming in the second over. Sehwag's opening buddy Gambhir showed some class of his own, by swatting a square drive past point for another boundary off Morkel.

In the fortuitous 7th over, Sehwag blazed Steyn for a four through the vacant cover region. IN the very next ball, Steyn replied with a fuller ball, which Sehwwag was not abel to commit to, slicing it up to mid-off where Proteas captain Graeme Smith was waiting for swallow him up. India were in trouble at 19/1 when Rahul Dravid walked to the crease.

At the end of the eight over, there was a misunderstanding between Dravid and Gambhir. Dravid turned around half-way down the pitch, but the throw by the fieldsman at the non-striker's end missed the stumps by a whisker and Dravid survived... but not for long. Just two overs later, in a dramatic delivery, Gambhir was dropped at gully off Lonwabo Tsotsobe.

Then the slip fieldsman ran back and returned a direct hit at the striker's stumps, catching Dravid short of the crease while the batsman was trying to steal a single. Dravid was on his way for 5 and India were in trouble at 28/2

In the following over, Gambhir endeavoured to offset some of the pressure by whipping Steyn away for two boundaries - one, an upper-cut over the slips, and the other, a edge past third slip. Gambhir and Sachin Tendulkar took India into tea with the score at 49/2.

At the start of Day 2, Harbhajan Singh opened the bowling with Ishant Sharma, but the spin-pace combination did little to unsettle Jacques Kallis, who was resuming at 81 not out, and Ashwell Prince, who was on 28.

In Harbhajan's second over of the day, Prince attacked him, smacking one four through extra-cover and two balls later, another boundary to cover-point. Kallis followed suit in the next over, striking Ishant for a four past mid-off. In the same over, Kallis ran three off Ishant to bring up South Africa's 250 in 78 overs.

Prince struck one more four before he was clean bowled by Sreesanth for 47. The fatal ball was an inswinger which sneaked through between bat and pad to crash into the off-stump. In the very next ball, Sreesanth got new batsman Mark Boucher caught behind for a duck. The bowler was suddenly on a hat-trick as the hosts were reeling at 262/6 in 84 overs.

But Kallis who was approaching his century, wouldn't back down. He struck Sreesanth for two consecutive fours in the 86th over as South Africa climbed to 272/6. With Kallis on 99, Zaheer got new batsman Dale Steyn fending at a bouncer which ballooned up to gully where Cheteshwar Pujara took a simple catch.

But the drama was far from over. In the very next over, Morkel got off the mark by slicing Sreesanth over gully for four, before edging another risky boundary to third man. But Sreesanth replied strongly by getting Morkel caught behind off the last ball of the over. The bowler had taken five wickets in the innings as South Africa had slumped to 283/8 in 88 overs.

Then 9th batsman Paul Harris, was able to offer Kallis some support as the batsman turned belligerent towards Ishant, smacking him for two fours in the 93rd over. Two overs later, the batting duo had taken their side to the 300-run mark. But after 10 runs and 3 overs, Ishant got a delivery to bounce toward Harris' ribcage as the batsman tucked the ball straight to Pujara at leg-gully. South Africa were in danger of being bowled out at 310/9.

As Kallis sensed the end of the innings was fast approaching, he cut loose, clubbing Zaheer Khan for two fours in the 100th over. Kallis then went after Ishant, taking 9 runs off him in the 103rd over and retaining the strike. Kallis, with last batsman Lonwabo Tsotsobe, lasted out till lunch, taking the score to 335/9 with the 10th wicket partnership worth 25.

After the break, Tsotsobe gave Kallis most of the strike as the batsman cut loose. He smacked Sreesanth for two consecutive fours in the 107th over, both shots racing away to the cover-point boundary. With those shots, Kallis brought up his 150 as well as South Africa's 350. But 6.5 overs later, Zaheer eventually brought the threatening partnership to an end when he had Kallis caught behind for 161. South Africa had made 362 all out when at one stage it looked like all 11 batsmen would have been back in the pavilion for under 300.


Story first published:  Tuesday, January 4, 2011, 8:09 [IST]
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