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Prajakta Pawar in Mumbai 20 December 2013 - 12:41am IST

Report: South Africa vs India - 1st Test, Day 2

SA trail by 67 runs after India’s pace trio strike

After being dominated in the first two sessions of the day, India turned the tables on the hosts in the final session to leave South Africa on 213 for six at stumps. Ishant Sharma got the ball rolling, and ably aided by Zaheer Khan and Mohammed Shami, they claimed six wickets in the third session by bowling fuller. The day belonged to the bowlers with 11 wickets falling and Vernon Philander and Ishant both missing out on hat-tricks. With the match hanging in the balance, Faf du Plessis (17) and Philander (48) were batting when play ended on Day 2.

Earlier, when Ajinkya Rahane and MS Dhoni were battling it out after taking guard on the second morning, it looked like India could attain the 300-run mark. While the SA pacers continued to hit the deck hard and ask questions off the Indian batsmen, the pair had patiently stood their ground. Although the runs had dried up, Rahane and Dhoni seemed to be carrying forward from the previous day as they bided their time at the crease.

But in the ninth over of the morning, Morne Morkel took the edge of the India captain’s bat and AB de Villiers did the rest to give the hosts their first breakthrough for the day. The wicket triggered a collapse. In the next over, Vernon Philander bowling a better line than the first day claimed Rahane and Zaheer Khan but was denied a hat-trick by Ishant Sharma. Rahane nicked to the wicketkeeper, while Zaheer was trapped plumb in front of the wicket.

But, Philander got his wicket in his next over. Getting the ball to swing in, he knocked Ishant Sharma's off-stump. Morkel then dislodged Mohammed Shami's bails in the next to wrap up the Indian innings for 280 in just a little over an hour in the morning. In the space of 13 overs India lost their last five wickets for just 25 runs; leaving Ravichandran Ashwin stranded on 11.

Graeme Smith and Alviro Petersen then opening the innings took SA to lunch at 22 without loss. The Zaheer-led had attack kept the pressure on and the run rate well below three till lunch was called.

Ishant Sharma struck soon after lunch to send back Petersen and welcomed Hashim Amla with a short ball. And continuing to trouble the batsmen Zaheer kept them on their toes and created chances. He had Smith edge to the slips but Ashwin at first slip couldn’t take the offering. Shami too kept the batsmen under a tight leash but was unable to give India another breakthrough.

As the session progressed, Smith and Amla chipped away at the Indian bowling and the partnership began to take shape and tipped the balance in the home team’s favour. Smith who had received a life on 19 brought up his half-century with a four over mid-on off Ashwin. With runs coming easily for the hosts the run rate climbed over four runs-per-over. The SA pair took the team to 118 for one at tea off 35 overs.

Although the Proteas had dominated the first session, India edged their way back in the third session. Zaheer began the proceedings for India and bowling relentlessly beat Amla a couple of times in his second over of the spell. In the following over SA’s No.3 lost his stumps to Ishant. The tall pacer bending his back reaped rewards for his persistence. After disrupting Amla’s woodwork, he had Jacques Kallis lbw off the next.

However, the outside off-stump hat-trick delivery didn’t interest AB de Villiers. But Ishant had brought India back in the game with a wicket maiden. Zaheer followed it up with another wicket maiden; he had the South African captain leg-before to leave the home team on 130 for four.
JP Duminy who then joined de Villiers in the middle was not allowed to settle down. Bowling with renewed vigor Ishant kept the batsmen on a tight leash.

Shami who took over from Ishant had Duminy edge the ball to the slip and a ball later dismissed de Villiers for 13 to get into the SA lower-order and gain the upper hand. With the team on 146 for six, Philander joined du Plessis to help salvage the innings. After taking the measure of the situation and after playing themselves in, they worked to reduce the deficit. As the partnership began to take shape, Dhoni brought Zaheer back into the attack and though he beat and troubled the batsmen a wicket remained elusive. The du Plessis-Philander duo took SA to the 200-run mark.

Philander garnered runs, while du Plessis played the perfect foil to keep the hosts afloat. While India strove to get a breakthrough, Dhoni reintroduced Shami into the attack and the bowler had du Plessis nick the third ball but was dropped by Rohit Sharma in the second slip. The pair took the team to stumps without losing further wickets.