India [ Images ] underlined their status as the world's top Test team by outclassing South Africa [ Images ] by 87 runs to win the second Test and level the three-match series 1-1, on Day 4 at Kingsmead, Durban, on Wednesday.
Ashwell Prince [ Images ] was left stranded on 39 from 108 balls after Lonwabo Tsotsobe (0) was the final wicket to fall; he was run-out by a sharp piece of fielding from Cheteshwar Pujara [ Images ] at short leg.
VVS Laxman [ Images ] also played a decisive role in India's victory, scoring a fluent 96 from 171 balls, the only half-century of the match to guide India to a respectable 228 in their second innings, on a pitch offering a lot of help to the pacers.South Africa were dismissed for a paltry 131 in 37.2 overs in their first innings, after India had folded for 205 in 65.1 overs, as 18 wickets fell on day two of the Test.
Morning session: (71 runs, 32 overs, 4 wickets)
Resuming on 111 for three in 27 overs, South Africa looked to negotiate the early overs as Kallis and de Villiers played it safe.
Sreesanth settled on a good line and length while Harbhajan continued probing the batsmen as both built pressure by stopping the flow of runs.
Sreesanth's perseverance was finally rewarded with the big wicket of Kallis, for 17. The Kerala [ Images ] pacer got one to bounce sharply off a good length and Kallis could only fend it to Virender Sehwag [ Images ] at gully.
Sreesanth bowled a wonderful spell of five overs in the morning, taking one wicket for seven runs; he didn't offer the batsmen anything, while resorting to a good line and length.
Harbhajan struck a few overs later with the wicket of AB de Villiers [ Images ]. The right-hander, who made 33 from 76 balls, was struck on the pads right in front of the stumps by a straighter delivery from the off-spinner, bowling round the wicket.
Although replays showed that the ball could have bounced over the stumps, it looked plumb to the naked eye.
Zaheer also got among the wickets when he trapped Mark Boucher [ Images ] (1) leg before wicket with one that came in sharply.
Dale Steyn [ Images ] was lucky when his edge off Harbhajan flew just past a diving Rahul Dravid [ Images ] at first slip for a boundary, in the 44th over. This was the first boundary for the hosts on day four after a long wait of nearly 17 hours.
He got another boundary through thirdman off Zaheer as he once again got a thick edge. But his charmed life ended soon after.
Zaheer showed his experience as he bowled him a few bouncers before delivering a wide one that Steyn (10) edged and was caught by the third slip fielder.
Ashwell Prince struggled at the start of his innings and took 51 deliveries to hit his first boundary, driving Ishant Sharma [ Images ] through the covers.
Prince (28 from 77 balls) and Paul Harris (7 from 26 balls) survived a testing spell from the Indians pacers before lunch. At the break, South Africa were 182 for seven in 59 overs, still needing 121 runs for victory.
Sreesanth once again rose to the occasion with a fantastic bowling display, claiming three for 45 in 14 overs. Zaheer continued to torment the Proteas as he took two for 45, while Harbhajan got two for 55.
Post-lunch session: (33 runs, 13.3 overs, 3 wickets)
India did not have to wait for long to strike in the post-tea session. Zaheer struck in the second over after the break, bowling Paul Harris for seven.
He even gave Harris a send-off as he walked back to the pavilion. In fact, Zaheer was all fired up after the break and constantly had a go at the batsmen and troubled them with well-directed bouncers at their body.
Morkel got the first boundary of the session when he lofted a full delivery from Harbhajan over mid-on.
Prince and Morkel chanced their arm against Zaheer and Harbhajan respectively and went for the big shots but on each occasion the thick edges flew over the slip fielders.
India's frustration grew further when Morkel got another thick edge that flew past the gully region for a four; it took South Africa past the 200-run mark.
Morkel (13) was lucky when he was caught at gully, but Ishant had overstepped the bowling crease.
Not only were Morkel and Prince holding fort, but they also kept the scoreboard moving. Prince even used the reverse sweep against Harbhajan, while Morkel slapped a wide delivery through the covers for his third boundary, in the 72nd over.
Ishant ended India's frustration when he had Morkel (20) caught behind by wicketkeeper Dhoni [ Images ].
The last wicket also fell soon as Lonwabo Tsotsobe was run-out in the same over courtesy some sharp fielding by Cheteshwar Pujara at short leg.
Prince was left stranded on 39 from 108 balls as South Africa were bowled out for 215 in 72.3 overs and lost by 87 runs, their third straight loss at Durban.
On the other hand, India managed to break their jinx at the venue after two losses; this was only their second victory in South Africa in 18 years.
Zaheer's return proved to be the decisive factor; he led the bowling honours with splendid match figures of six for 93. Harbhajan also returned to his best with a six-wicket haul (six for 80), while Sreesanth got his rhythm back with four wickets in the match.
The two teams will now play the decider at Cape Town from January 2-6.