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Steyn, Kallis put South Africa in command
Harish Kotian in Ahmedabad | April 03, 2008 12:01 IST
Last Updated: April 03, 2008 18:14 IST
Dale Steyn took five wickets and Jacques Kallis hit an unbeaten half-century as South Africa took a firm grip on the second Test against India on Day One, at the Sardar Patel stadium in Ahmedabad, on Thursday.
Led by Steyn's magnificent spell of 5 for 23, South Africa dismissed India for a paltry 76 in the morning session and then made a strong reply, thanks to a solid 60 by Kallis that saw them end the day on a healthy 223 for 4 in 64 overs, a lead of 174 runs.
Kallis was involved in an unbroken stand of 106 runs for the fifth wicket with AB de Villiers, who was unbeaten on 59, after openers Graeme Smith (34) and Neil McKenzie (42) gave South Africa a good start, putting on 78 runs for the first wicket.
Harbhajan Singh was India's most impressive bowler, claiming three wickets for 49 in his 16 overs.
Earlier, electing to bat, none of the batsmen could make sizeable contributions as India were shot out in less than a session, 109 minutes to be precise. Steyn took full advantage of the Indian batsmen's weakness against the short delivery to register his second successive five-wicket haul.
Makhaya Ntini initiated the damage with a three-wicket haul that saw India crash to 30 for four by the eighth over.
Irfan Pathan was India's top scorer, finishing unbeaten on 21 from 17 deliveries, inclusive of three boundaries.
Morning session: (77 runs, 21 overs, 10 wickets)
As expected, Virender Sehwag was greeted with a barrage of short deliveries from Dale Steyn. The dashing opener, however, resisted the temptation and was quite happy to duck under them.
Wasim Jaffer looked comfortable and stroked Makhaya Ntini effortlessly through the covers for a boundary in the fourth over.
However, he fell two deliveries later, for 9, when he edged Ntini and was brilliantly caught at first slip by Graeme Smith, who held on to a sharp chance low to his left.
Sehwag joined his partner in the dressing room in the next over.
The right-hander tried to drive Steyn through the off-side but ended up dragging the ball on to his stumps for 6.
India were in trouble quite early in the match, having lost both their openers by the fifth over, and in the absence of Sachin Tendulkar, the hosts were faced with an uphill task.
VVS Laxman's judgement of length deserted him in the seventh over. He shouldered arms to an incoming delivery from Ntini that came in sharply and struck the bails. He was dismissed for three as India slipped into further trouble at 30 for 3 in the eighth over.
Sourav Ganguly also lasted two balls before he became Ntini's third victim. The left-hander seemed unsure of whether to leave the delivery or play, before ending up playing it on to his stumps without scoring.
Ntini ran through the top order, claiming three wickets in the space of 12 deliveries, as India slumped to 30 for four in the eighth over.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni tried to repair the damage with some positive strokes. He hit Morkel for a couple of boundaries in the 12th over, including a powerful straight drive. He was, however, lucky in the same over when he fended a short delivery which just about managed to evade Hashim Amla at short leg.
Steyn came back for his second spell and immediately got the key wicket of Dravid. The right-hander was beaten by a magical delivery from Steyn that drifted in but left the batsmen once it pitched, taking the off-stump.
Dravid was dismissed for 3 off 26 deliveries, leaving the hosts in big trouble at 53 for five in the 14th over.
Dhoni played a reckless shot outside the off-stump and ended up edging Morkel to wicketkeeper Mark Boucher for 14 from 22 deliveries, inclusive of three boundaries. He, however, was the only batsman in the top six to cross double figures.
Anil Kumble became the fourth batsmen to play on to his stumps when he dragged a short delivery from Morkel and was dismissed for 0.
Harbhajan Singh also joined the procession, dismissed leg before wicket to Steyn for 2, as India slipped to 56 for eight in the 16th over.
India must be regretting that they elected to bat on winning the toss, or cursing pitch curator Dhiraj Parsana for producing such a lively wicket. But the fact is that the Indian batsmen have themselves to blame for such a lacklustre showing with many of them playing indiscreet shots and throwing their wickets away.
Irfan Pathan tried to bring some cheer to the sparse gathering at the Motera stadium with a couple of boundaries off Steyn in the 18th over.
Steyn opened up RP Singh with a short delivery that the batsman could only guide straight to Smith at first leg for 0.
He finished off the things in style three balls later when he beat S Sreesanth for pace and crashed his stumps.
Pathan finished unbeaten on 21 from 17 deliveries, inclusive of three boundaries, as India were bowled out for a lowly 76 in exactly 20 overs in 109 minutes in the first session of the match.
It was their second lowest total at home after the 75 they scored against the West Indies at Delhi in November 1987.
The Indian scorecard read more like a mobile phone number -- 9 6 3 3 0 14 21 0 1 0 0.
Steyn led the charge with a haul of five wickets for 23 runs in eight overs as the Indian batsmen came a cropper against his swing and pace. Ntini started the rot, rocking the top order, claiming three for 18 in six overs, while Morkel also made a vital contribution with two for 20 in six overs.
If not for the extras, that totalled 19, India would have been staring at further embarrassment.
But credit must be given to South Africa for coming well-prepared into this match and executing their plans to perfection. On the other hand, India were bothered with getting players fit and there were also distractions of the Indian Premier League all along the way.
South Africa successfully negotiated the only over before lunch and were 1 for no loss at the break.
They will now be hoping to cash in on thew good showing after the break and post a huge first innings score and bat India out of the match.
Post-lunch session: (99, 22.4 overs, 2 wickets)
South African openers Graeme Smith and Neil McKenzie looked quite confident right from the start unlike their Indian counterparts. They played to the merits of the delivery and did not try anything rash, knowing fully well that they had lots of time in their hands.
Smith got a reprieve on two, when Ganguly at short leg dropped a sharp catch in the fifth over. It gave the South African captain a lift as he suddenly changed gears soon after. He raced to 26 from 27 deliveries, including five boundaries, as South Africa reached 45 for no loss after nine overs.
McKenzie followed it up with consecutive boundaries off R P Singh in the next over to take South Africa past 50.
The second session of play was in sharp contrast to the first one.
The South African openers were having a feast and two boundaries from McKenzie off Pathan in the 13th over took them to 76 for no loss, taking them level at India's first innings score.
After a guarded start, South Africa had prospered quite nicely racing to 78 for no loss after 15 overs, with 63 coming from the last 10 overs.
Sreesanth then gave the hosts some relief when he claimed the wicket of Smith for 34. The South African captain was trapped leg before wicket after hitting six boundaries in 42 deliveries, but, importantly, he gave his team a solid start.
McKenzie made his good form with the bat count once again. He scored 94 and 155 not out in the two innings in the first Test at Chennai and was looking good for a big innings yet again. His partner in crime at Chennai, Hashim Amla, got off to a good start and negotiated the pacers quite well early on.
South Africa were 92 for one after 21 overs before India brought in spin from both ends.
Harbhajan Singh struck in his second over when he got the key wicket of McKenzie in the final over before the tea break. The right-hander edged a straighter delivery from the off-spinner straight to Rahul Dravid at first slip after a fine knock of 42, inclusive of eight boundaries in 72 deliveries.
Post-tea session: (123 runs, 40.2 overs, 2 wickets)
Harbhajan rather soon after tea, claiming the wicket of Amla, who was caught at short leg for 16, to reduce South Africa to 101 for 3 in the 26th over.
Kallis, who was dismissed quite cheaply in both innings of the Chennai Test, seemed determined to play a big knock. In the 30th over, he charged down the wicket and lofted Harbhajan for a huge six straight down the ground, with an obvious intent of not wanting the offie to settle down.
However, Harbhajan continued with his wicket ways. He bagged his third victim of the innings when he trapped Ashwell Prince leg before for 2 to leave South Africa in a bit of trouble at 117 for four.
But Kallis made sure his team would not follow in India's path. He and new man AB de Villiers got South Africa back on track as they stitched together a steady 50- run partnership to take South Africa to a healthy 173 for four after 50 overs.
Kallis and de Villiers made sure that there was no further drama in the closing overs as they opted for caution. South Africa brought its 200 in the 59th over, with both batsmen approaching their half-centuries.
Kallis was the first to complete his fifty when he flicked Sreesanth through fine leg for a boundary. His 48th Test half-century took him 117 deliveries and included just three boundaries and a six.
The Kerala pacer was unlucky not to get a close leg before wicket appeal ruled in his favour against de Villiers in the 62nd over. A reverse swinging yorker from Sreesanth hit the batsman on his toe before hitting his bat, but umpire Tony Hill turned down the appeal.
De Villiers then brought up his half-century courtesy a streaky boundary, when his edge off Sreesanth flew past the slip fielder. It was quite an important knock and his partnership with Kallis had helped South Africa drive home the advantage.
He then drove Sreesanth through the covers for his sixth boundary to bring up the 100-run partnership for the fifth wicket. He repeated the dose off the next delivery as South Africa ended the opening day on a comfortable 223 for four in 64 overs.
With a lead of 147 runs already under their belt, the visitors are firmly in the driver's seat as early as day one.
Kallis showed great maturity to anchor the South African innings and finish unbeaten on 60 from 124 deliveries, including five boundaries and a six. At the other end, De Villiers was not out on 59 from 102 deliveries, inclusive of seven boundaries, having added 106 runs for the fifth wicket.
India need to strike early tomorrow morning and then clean up the tailenders pretty soon else South Africa look set to bat them out of the match.
For India, off-spinner Harbhajan claimed three for 49 in his 16 overs, but even that was not enough to stop the South Africans from taking control. Anil Kumble looked way below his best in his spell of 12 overs for 27 runs.
Sreesanth bowled with a lot of heart despite the conditions, taking one for 53 in his 15 overs.
It was a day that India would rather like to forget pretty soon. South Africa surely have the upper hand at the moment, but India would like to start afresh on day two and hope to stage a fightback. But, as things stand, it would take one hell of a task!