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India win third Test, square series 1-1
Bikash Mohapatra in Kanpur | April 13, 2008 11:54 IST
Last Updated: April 13, 2008 18:13 IST
India won the third and final Test against South Africa at the Green Park stadium by eight wickets to level the series 1-1.
It was India's fifth win over South Africa in 21 Tests, their fourth at home, as against 10 losses and seven draws. It was only the eighth Test in Kanpur (out of 20) to have produced a result with India winning five of them and preserved the home team's record of having not lost a Test match here in 25 years.
The series ended in a 1-1 draw, with the visitors having won the second Test at Motera by an innings and 90 runs and the first Test at Chepauk having ended in a tame draw. This was also the second straight Test match after Motera to end in three days.
After taking a handy first innings lead of 60 and dismissing South Africa for a paltry 121 in their second innings, India notched up the required 62 runs for the loss of just two wickets (64 for two).
Opener Virender Sehwag [Images] (22 off 12 balls) hit two straight sixes off Paul Harris' first two balls and perished in the third in trying to hasten the pace -- caught by Ashwell Prince at backward point. India 32 for one.
Wasim Jaffer [Images] (10) was trapped in front by Morne Morkel for a second time in the match at the same score before Sourav Ganguly [Images] (13 not out) and Rahul Dravid [Images] (18 not out) ensured no further damage, taking the team home in just under 14 overs.
Earlier, none of the South African batsmen showed either perseverance or application in their second innings as wickets fell in a heap. Harbhajan Singh [Images] claimed match figures of seven for 96 (4 for 44 in the second), to finish with 19 wickets in the series, the highest on either side and was deservedly named the man of the series. South Africa fast bowler Dale Steyn was second highest wicket taker with 15 wickets.
And Ishant Sharma capped a perfect comeback with five wickets in the match, 2 for 18 in the second. Sehwag made amends for a lack of contribution with the bat in the first innings with career best bowling figures of three for 12 in the second innings -- improving upon his 3 for 33 against the West Indies [Images] in Gros Islet in 2006.
The pitch did play a crucial part in the result as there was no doubt that this was an under prepared wicket. But having said that, it is also imperative to add that there was some really impressive bowling from the Indians. They utilised the advantage offered to them to the maximum and some really appalling batting display from the South Africans.
The visitors can blame the nature of the wicket to a certain extent but most importantly, they have to blame themselves. The fact that they failed to apply themselves well resulted in their defeat.
Resuming at their overnight score of 288 for nine, the Indian tail wagged for quite a longer period -- producing 37 runs in 11.4 overs -- and the resultant entertainment quotient was far more than what was in store in both the opening days combined. And we aren't exaggerating.
There was a whole lot of drama in the first hour of play much to the delight of the partisan crowd. Sreesanth [Images] and Ishant began negotiated the opening three overs carefully (six runs came off them).
However, in the final ball of the day's fourth over, bowled by Makhaya Ntini [Images] saw Sreesanth get a reprieve. Ntini's short of a length delivery from outside the off-stump had the batsman poking at it, getting a thick outside edge and the ball going through the gap between Neil McKenzie and Jacques Kallis [Images] at first and second slip respectively. It was clearly McKenzie's catch.
The ball went for four and in came the Indian 300. Ntini was immediately replaced by Paul Harris and Ishant got two consecutive boundaries in the spinner's opening over. Both the shots came off the edge and the second one went in between Mark Boucher [Images] and first slip. In Harris' next over Ishant parried but the ball didn't carry to the bowler.
Morne Morkel replaced Steyn at the other end and in his second over, Sreesanth fell pray to a slower one and offered a catch to Graeme Smith [Images] at mid off. The South African captain duly obliged.
But the umpire didn't, calling it a no ball and adding to the frustration of the Proteas. The visitors appealed vehemently on a number of occasions but there were no response from either umpire even as the crowd roared in appreciation.
However, in the next over Sreesanth's mistimed drive of Harris found Ashwell Prince at short cover and the former captain made no mistake. Harris, Steyn and Morkel finishing with three wickets apiece.
The India innings folded up at 325, the final wicket partnership of 46 being India's second highest against South Africa. And the 60-run lead handing India an advantage going into the second innings.
Harbhajan Singh opened the bowling as the visitors came into bat again but it was Sreesanth who gave India the breakthrough by trapping McKenzie (14) in front in the 12th over to capture his 50th Test wicket in his 14th match.
Hashim Amla (0) came and went, caught by Jaffer off Harbhajan as lunch was taken immediately after his dismissal. Captain Graeme Smith was unbeaten on 10 as South Africa went into lunch at 27 for two in 12.5 overs.
Post lunch session:
Smith and Kallis preferred to play safe as opposed to committing hara-kiri. And early on after lunch the plan seemed to work.
The duo put on 38 runs for the third wicket but more importantly helped their team erase the first innings deficit. While Smith assumed the mantle of the aggressor, with some sweetly timed hits, Kallis was more of a sheet anchor.
That was till Virender Sehwag replaced Sreesanth -- who had impressive figures of 8-4-7-1 after a wonderful spell.
The 29-year-old struck in his first ball, getting Jacques Kallis (15) caught at short-leg by Jaffer to a ball that spun sharply. In Sehwag's second ball Ashwell Prince survived a chance as Jaffer failed to catch the ball this time around.
However, India didn't have to wait long for another wicket. It was Sehwag, who struck again, in the first ball of his second over. This time the victim was the opposite captain Smith (35), who was bowled round the stumps. The visitors had been reduced to 72 for four and things were looking good for India.
Prince (8 not out) and AB de Villers (3 not out) though ensured South Africa didn't lose any more wickets before tea.
Post tea session:
Harbhajan struck in the very first over after tea, in the fifth ball. It was a ball that bounced a bit, got an edge from de Villiers' bat and went straight to Laxman at leg slip. South Africa 90 for five.
After persisting with spinners for some time, Dhoni [Images] went in for a double change, bringing in Sreesanth for Sehwag and replacing Harbhajan with Ishant.
In his first ball on return, Sreesanth would just watch haplessly as Yuvraj goofed up big time. Boucher, after having played a short of a length delivery towards Yuvi at point, set off for a single even though the non-striker Prince failed to respond. But even with both the batsmen stranded at the non-striker's end, Yuvraj missed the stumps, instead conceding an overthrow when he could have easily waited for Dhoni to reach the stumps.
But Boucher (5) didn't survive long, his fortunes running out in the first ball of the next over from Ishant. The Proteas keeper failed to stay clear of a ball that cut back sharply and Dhoni had no problem in snapping up the faint edge.
Three balls later, Morkel was cleaned up even before he had managed to open his account and even as Sreesanth was replaced after just one over, Harbhajan struck in his fifth ball having Paul Harris (0) caught by Dravid at first slip. South Africa staring at defeat at 102 for eight.
A few overs later, Harbhajan picked up his fourth wicket when Steyn (7), going for a slog sweep, missed the line completely and got cleaned up. And Sehwag had Ntini (0) caught by Ganguly to clip the tail. The visitor's innings folded up 82 minutes after tea.
Indian team had a slight wobble during their final chase but it was just a matter of time before they notched up the required runs.