Ganguly Half-Century Helps India Take The Lead

South Africa 265 (Smith 69, Amla 61, Sharma 3-52) v India 288-9 (Ganguly, 87, Laxman 50) in Kanpur South Africa lead the series 1-0 By John Pennington Saurav Ganguly scored a fine half-century to give India a first innings lead over South Africa on day two of the third and final Test in Kanpur. He scored 87 to add to VVS Laxman's earlier effort of exactly 50 to secure a priceless advantage on a wearing, dry pitch as India closed on 288 for nine, a lead of 23. Morne Morkel took three wickets to reduce India to 165 for four at tea before Ganguly added 65 with Yuvraj Singh (32) to put his side in a strong position. Paul Harris, South Africa's only specialist spinner on a pitch that took turn from the first session of the match, picked up the wickets of Yuvraj and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, also out for 32 before Dale Steyn removed Harbhajan Singh, trapped in front for six to keep the contest even. Replying to South Africa's 265, India went to lunch on 88 for two before Morkel removed set batsmen Rahul Dravid (29) and VVS Laxman (50) in the afternoon session. Dravid was caught by AB De Villiers before Laxman was bowled. Ganguly, though, stood firm, playing a crucial hand for his side, which must win the game to avoid a series defeat. "It is one of the best knocks I have played considering the surface, it is one of my top test knocks," Ganguly said afterwards. "On this surface you never know what is going to happen," he said. "If the spinners bowl well and we get early wickets, we can bowl them out below 150." Once Ganguly had gone, caught attempting a pull off of Dale Steyn, Piyush Chawla soon departed, caught by Graeme Smith off of Makhaya Ntini before some stubborn resistance from Shanthakumaran Sreesanth (nine not out) and Ishant Sharma (nought) frustrated the tourists. India had gone to lunch on 88 for two after they lost the wickets of openers Virender Sehwag (eight) and Wasim Jaffer (15) before Dravid and Laxman shored up the innings. Sehwag was trapped in front by Dale Steyn while Jaffer fell to the same mode of dismissal, but this time Morne Morkel was the bowler. � Cricket World 2008