In the see-saw battle that the third and deciding Test between South Africa and India is turning out to be, the hosts have once again launched a strong riposte after being on the back foot at lunch on Day 4.
Beginning the second session at a precarious 121/5, South Africa slipped further when they lost Ashwell Prince for 22. But Jacques Kallis lead a fight back and together with wicketkeeper Mark Boucher, put on a resilient stand of 82 to take South Africa into tea at 212/6 in 72 overs.
In just the third over after lunch, Ishant Sharma struck for the first time in the innings, to remove Ashwell Prince. The batsman was on his way for 22 after Sreesanth completed a sharp catch at point. India were just one wicket away from opening the tail, but then they ran into a formidable partnership between Kallis and Mark Boucher.
Boucher, who hasn't had much to do in this series so far, settled in by slapping Ishant for a couple of boundaries in the 49th over - one, glanced to fine leg and the other, scythed through the overs.In Ishant's following over, Boucher once again picked a four off him to take his side to 150.
A fairly quiet period followed, where the bowlers toiled in vain for a breakthrough and the batsmen just fended them off and pushed for ones and twos. Sreesanth appealed vociferously after two separate deliveries in one over when Kallis was struck on the pads. But on the first occasion, the ball hit the batsman too high, while on the second, it was missing off stump. Kallis even took some treatment for a strain he had apparently picked up along the way.
Then after 14 overs of no fours, Kallis broke the spell with two blistering boundaries off Ishant. With the first shot, he got to his half-century. Then Boucher took a single off Sreesanth in the 69th over to bring up South Africa's 200. Shortly thereafter, the batting duo took their side into tea with the score at 212/6, after having strung together an unbroken 82-run partnership.
On the morning of Day 4 of the third Test against South Africa, the Indian bowlers were right on the money as the hosts resumed on their overnight score of 52/2 with Petersen batting on 22 and Amla on 2. Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh appeared to have pick up his destructive vibe from whence he had left off. In just the second over of the day, he trapped Petersen plumb in front for the same scored he had toted up the previous evening.
Then new batsman Jacques Kallis, who was nursing a sore chest (from being struck by a Sreesanth delivery in the previous innings), counter-attacked. He hit a four off the same man that and hurt him and then reverse swept Bhajji for another boundary. But later in the over, Bhajji came into his own when he bowled Amla for 2. The tweaker was extracting prodigious turn from a crumbling wicket, reducing the hosts to 64/4 in 20 overs.
Kallis and the man that had replaced Amla at the crease A B de Villiers, pressed ahead. In subsequent overs, Kallis struck a four off Bhajji and de Villiers hammered Zaheer for a boundary, but they mostly just pushed for singles and twos. But at the start of the 37th over, Zaheer struck when he got a length ball to turn into de Villiers who in trying to leave it, played it back onto his stumps. South Africa had slumped to 98/5 as India sensed a middle-order collapse was on the cards.
However, India's nemesis of the first innings - Kallis - stood his ground and with No. 6 batsman Ashwell Prince, began to build a threatening partnership. The two took South Africa into lunch with the score at 121/5 and the partnership worth 23.