x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Double ton finally for Kallis, more grief for India

The landmark innings for the veteran was the centrepiece of a day when bowlers on both sides were often made to feel like unwanted extras.

South Africa's Dale Steyn, second from right, celebrates with teammates after dismissing India's Gautam Gambhir.
South Africa's Dale Steyn, second from right, celebrates with teammates after dismissing India's Gautam Gambhir.

CENTURION, SOUTH AFRICA // Jacques Kallis said afterwards that he was more relieved at not having to answer the question anymore.

"It's nice to tick the box and move on," he said, smiling happily at having fulfilled his end of a bargain with Johann Rupert, the owner of the Leopard Creek Country Club, who had promised him lifetime membership if he scored a double-century.

It took him 15 years, 143 Tests and 242 innings to get there, but when he nudged Jaidev Unadkat off his hips down to fine leg, the entire stadium rose as one in thunderous applause, while Opus's 1980s hit, Life is Life, which has been his entrance song, blared out of the speakers.

The Kallis innings was the centrepiece of a day when bowlers on both sides were often made to feel like unwanted extras.

South Africa rampaged to 620 for four before declaring, adding an astonishing 225 from 36 overs in the morning session, but India were in no mood to roll over on the now-placid pitch, with Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir bringing up their 10th century partnership.

Unfortunately for India, their hopes of batting at least six sessions to save the game took a serious hit in the final stages of the day's play.

Oblivious as ever of trifles like the match situation and the bowlers he was up against, Sehwag had eased to 50 from just 46 balls when South Africa changed tactics and decided to starve him of runs.

His patience tested, Sehwag lashed out, and Paul Harris was jubilant as Graeme Smith took a fine running catch at deep cover.

Ryan McLaren, the substitute fielder, could have run out both openers early on, and Sehwag enjoyed another reprieve on 34, with Hashim Amla at short cover failing to hold on to a Lonwabo Tsotsobe delivery that was struck with real venom.

Gambhir too enjoyed moments of fortune, with Alviro Petersen the culprit on both occasions.

He was on 43 when Petersen dropped a straightforward chance at short point, and there was another sigh of relief when he put down a harder catch when Gambhir had made 62. It did not prove excessively costly though, as Dale Steyn steamed in from round the wicket to nail him with one that nipped back a little off the seam.

At that stage, with the lights on and close of play imminent, India sent out Ishant Sharma as nightwatchman and he kept Rahul Dravid company until the umpires led the players off.

An hour later, lightning streaks lit up the sky and the rain came down.

The first session had seen India's bowlers face the eye of a shot storm. Amla, who has scored four hundreds against India this year, added only 24 to his overnight 116 before glancing Ishant too fine, but his exit brought only punishment rather than respite.

AB de Villiers averages 87.54 in 2010 and was in pristine touch from the first ball he faced.

Whether driving through the covers, clipping it off the pads or muscling it over midwicket, he had far too much skill for a threadbare attack, racing to the fastest century ever made by a South African (76 balls).

With Kallis also in no mood to ease up, runs came in a cascade, reminding old-timers of a magical evening at Kingsmead 40 years earlier when Barry Richards and Graeme Pollock flayed Australia for 103 runs in just over an hour.

MS Dhoni's bowling calls also defied belief, with the hapless Suresh Raina going for 77 from seven overs.

By the time De Villiers nicked one behind, the lead was 484 and Smith had seen enough. And despite the defiance shown by their openers, a rain-dance or two remains India's best option to save the game.

sports@thenational.ae

SCORECARD

India 1st Innings, 136
South Africa 1st Innings (Overnight 366-2):
Graeme Smith c Dhoni b Harbhajan 62
Alviro Petersen c Gambhir b Harbhajan 77
Hashim Amla c Dhoni b Sharma 140
Jacques Kallis not out 201
AB de Villiers c Dhoni b Sharma 129
Extras: (2b, 3lb, 2w, 4nb) 11
TOTAL: (for 4 wickets declared) 620
Overs: 130.1
Fall of wickets: 1-111, 2-166, 3-396, 4-620.
Did not bat: Ashwell Prince, Mark Boucher, Dale Steyn, Paul Harris, Morne Morkel, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
Bowling: Shanthakumaran Sreesanth 24-1-97-0 (1w, 2nb), Ishant Sharma 27.1-2-120-2, Jaidev Unadkat 26-4-101-0 (2nb), Harbhajan Singh 36-2-169-2, Suresh Raina 7-0-77-0, Sachin Tendulkar 10-1-51-0 (1w).

India, 2nd Innings:
Gautam Gambhir lbw b Steyn 80
Virender Sehwag c Smith b Harris 63
Rahul Dravid not out 28
Ishant Sharma not out 7
Extras: (8b, 1lb, 1w, 2nb) 12
TOTAL: (for 2 wickets) 190
Overs: 44.1
Fall of wickets: 1-137, 2-170.
Still to bat: Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Suresh Raina, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh, Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, Jaidev Unadkat.
Bowling: Dale Steyn 12-4-38-1 (1w), Morne Morkel 11-1-38-0 (1nb), Lonwabo Tsotsobe 9.1-1-48-0, Paul Harris 8-0-34-1, Jacques Kallis 4-1-23-0 (1nb).