India-South Africa Test going down to the wire (Tea report)

Johannesburg, Dec 22: South Africa were 331 for four needing another 127 runs for a memorable win against India at tea on day five of their first cricket Test at the Wanderers here Sunday.

Faf du Plessis (88 not out) and wicketkeeper batsman AB de Villiers (72 not out) added 95 runs in 31 overs bowled during the afternoon session. The first Test was thus all set to go down to the wire with the hosts needing 127 runs with six wickets in hand as tea was called.

South Africa put on 95 more runs in 31 overs in the second session of Day 5 without losing a wicket to reach 331/4 while chasing a target of 458. Du Plessis and de Villiers made sure that the hosts did not lose wickets and kept the scoreboard ticking, maintaining a healthy run rate of 3.06.

With the duo batting strongly, the Test had swung from India’s favour to anybody’s game. India need to get wickets early in the final session of the Test to stand any chance of victory as du Plessis and de Villiers looked set to take South Africa home if they kept batting on.

Both the batsman scored their half centuries and looked solid for a ton each. The Indian pacers, who displayed exemplary performance in the first innings, were left without any venom in their attack.

Earlier, the South Africa batsman made sure that India did not run away with a victory by sticking out the first session on a fifth day pitch to reach 236/4 in their second innings.

The hosts resumed the day at 138/2 and scored a gritty 99 runs in 29 overs in the first session, at a run rate of 3.38 per over. Du Plessis (42 not out) and wicketkeeper batsman AB de Villiers (25 not out) were at the crease when lunch was called.

India took off well in the morning when Alviro Peterson (76) dragged a Mohammed Shami delivery on to his leg stump in the fifth over of the day, without adding a single run to his overnight score.

But du Plessis and Jacques Kallis combined well to put on 54 runs for the fourth wicket before the latter was adjudged leg before wicket by umpire Rod Tucker off Zaheer Khan — who thus became the fourth Indian bowler and second pacer to take 300 wickets in Test cricket.

However, the right handed batsman was left disappointed as replays showed a thick inside edge before the ball hit his pads when batting on 34.

The 35-year-old Zaheer joined the elite company of leg spinner Anil Kumble (619 wickets), all-rounder Kapil Dev (434) and offie Harbhajan Singh (413) in his 89th match. He also becomes the most successful left arm fast bowler after Pakistani great Wasim Akram (414) and Sri Lanka’s Chaminda Vaas (355).

IANS