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Report: South Africa vs India - 1st Test, Day 5

du Plessis, de Villiers deny India win at Wanderers

In a riveting game of cricket, South Africa pulled off an improbable draw in the first Test against India. Centurions Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers denied India victory as they took the game to a rare nail-biting finish in a Test. du Plessis fashioned the draw with a remarkable 134 and he was complemented by AB de Villiers (103) as they chased 458.

At the start of the last day, the match was precariously poised with the visitors needing eight wickets, while the hosts requiring 320 runs for a win. Although the match was tipped in favour MS Dhoni’s men, the home team too had a formidable batting line-up. When play ended, SA were 450 for the loss of seven wickets, just eight short of what would have been a record-breaking win in Tests.

Earlier, in the fifth over of the day, Mohammed Shami dismissed Alviro Petersen to give India a crucial breakthrough. A length ball from the young pacer took the inside edge of the bat and crashed the opener’s stumps to send him back for 76. Jacques Kallis then joined Faf du Plessis, but 54 runs later, the experienced campaigner became Zaheer Khan’s 300th Test wicket. Kallis added momentum to the innings with a 37-ball 34-run knock before being trapped lbw.

However, those were the only two wickets that India got in the first session, while the hosts added 98 runs during that period. du Plessis was on 42 with AB de Villiers on 24 when SA went to lunch at 236 for four.

The partnership that had begun to take shape in the first session blossomed as both batsmen batted watchfully and utilised every opportunity to score off the Indian bowlers. A few overs after lunch, du Plessis pulled Shami to get to his 50, and five overs later, de Villiers pulled the bowler to reach his half-century.

Although Zaheer’s probing line posed a few questions to the batsmen, it could not get the visitors a much-needed wicket, and the duo even took the Proteas past the 300-run mark. While de Villiers impressed with his strokeplay, du Plessis held up one end to help keep the match hanging in the balance. Without losing a wicket in the session, the duo took the team to 331 for four at tea. du Plessis batting on 88 and de Villiers on 72 fought it out in the middle as they took on the Indian with aplomb.

The battle continued in to last session as the Zaheer-led attack bent its back. In the pacer’s second over of the session, de Villiers dispatched him through the cover region twice to collect eight from it. The pair approached their well-deserved centuries as the visitors toiled to no avail. A back-foot punch to collect a four by du Plessis off the left-arm pacer took the flourishing partnership past 150.

Having held his nerve to keep the team in fray, du Plessis brought up his century with a cracking shot to mid-wicket. Scoring at a steady pace, the SA pair reduced the deficit to less than 100 runs. They also brought up the highest fourth-innings total against India in the process.

de Villiers reached his century with a single to thirdman just before the drinks break and in the process reduced the deficit to 66. With a boundary over mid-wicket off Ishant, du Plessis took the partnership past 200 and followed it up with a single to bring up the 400 for his team.

Ishant gave India the wicket of de Villiers in his next over. The delivery took the inside edge and toppled the bails to send de Villiers back for 103. With SA 56 runs short of the target, JP Duminy joined du Plessis in the middle and was tested by the tall pacer as India had a minimum of 12.5 overs to claim the remaining five wickets.

Duminy struck Shami straight down the ground to add four to the tally, but was castled later in the over by the young paceman. The pacers – especially Zaheer and Ishant – bowled long spells as they worked to keep their team in the game.

However, Vernon Philander, who had struck a fighting half-century in the first innings, aided du Plessis in taking the innings forward. With SA 16 away, a direct hit from Ajinkya Rahane at mid-off saw the back of du Plessis. The middle-order batsman’s remarkable innings, which brought the match down to the wire, ended when he tried to sneak in a single.

Philander and Dale Steyn were then denied the required runs by the Indians as they ensured that they don’t lose the game.

Man of the Match : Virat Kohli for scoring 119 and 96 runs in the first and second innings respectively

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Stats Highlights: SA vs Ind, 1st Test, Day 4

Pujara and Kohli draw level with record Tendulkar-Azharuddin stand

Cheteshwar Pujara (153) made his fourth score of 150 or more in Test cricket. Interestingly, out of 26 instances when Pujara has scored a first-class 100, he has managed to reach the 150 mark 15 times!

Pujara’s 100 to 150 conversion ratio of 57.69 percent is the second best in first-class cricket for any batsman scoring 25 or more tons. Only David Sales (17 scores of 150 or more out of 29 hundreds) has a better conversion ratio (58.62 percent).

Virat Kohli (96) just missed out on becoming only the fourth Indian to score a century in both innings of a Test. Vijay Hazare, Sunil Gavaskar (thrice) and Rahul Dravid (twice) have accomplished this feat for India in the past.

Kohli is the fifth Indian to score a ton and a 90-odd in the same Test. The details:


Batsman

Scores

Opponents

Venue

Season

Chandu Borde

109 & 96

West Indies

Delhi

1958-59

Mohinder Amarnath

90 & 100

Australia

Perth

1977-78

Sourav Ganguly

239 & 91

Pakistan

Bangalore

2007-08

Gautam Gambhir

179 & 97

England

Mohali

2008-09

Virat Kohli

119 & 96

South Africa

Johannesburg

2013-14

Kohli’s match aggregate of 215 runs is the second-highest by an Indian batsman in South Africa, after Rahul Dravid’s 229 (148 and 81) also at Johannesburg in 1996-97.

The 222-run partnership between Pujara and Kohli equaled the record of India’s highest partnership for any wicket in South Africa. Sachin Tendulkar and Mohammad Azharuddin had also added 222 (for the sixth wicket) at Cape Town in 1996-97.

The last time India scored 400 in their second innings of an overseas Test was against Australia at Sydney in January 2012.

Dale Steyn went wicketless for the 12th time in his Test career. And, the 30 overs bowled and 104 runs conceded by him are the most for him in an innings where he has not bagged any scalps.

Alviro Petersen reached 40 for the first time in the second innings of a Test (in 21 innings).

After AB de Villiers, MS Dhoni rolled his arm over for a couple of overs, thus providing the first instance in Test history of wicketkeepers from both sides bowling in the same Test.

Incidentally, Dhoni holds the record of most instances of bowling by a wicketkeeper in Test cricket – 6 times. England’s Bill Storer is second on this list with 5 such instances, followed by Syed Kirmani (3).

The highest successful chase in Test cricket is 418 for seven by West Indies against Australia at St.John’s in 2003. South Africa’s highest successful Test chase is 414 for four against Australia at Perth in 2008-09. And, the highest successful chase against India is 342 for eight by Australia at Perth in 1977-78.

South Africa ended the fourth day on 138 for two, needing 320 more runs to win. Only three sides have made 320 or more runs to win on the last day of a Test. The last such instance was at Lord’s in 1984 when West Indies added 344 runs on the last day to win the Test.