South Africa finished day two of the second Test versus India at Durban on 82 for none (20 overs), trailing India by 252 runs, after Dale Steyn took six wickets to bowl India out for 334.
At Kingsmead, after rain washed out the morning session, India lost nine wickets for 153 in one and a half sessions to cede the advantage Murali Vijay (97 runs, 226 balls, 18 fours) and Cheteshwar Pujara (70 runs, 132 balls, five fours) had given them on day one with a 157-run second wicket partnership.
The Proteas’ openers Graeme Smith (35 not out, 59 balls, five fours) and Alviro Petersen (46 not out, 61 balls, seven fours) came out in a determined mood, on a pitch that was flat despite so much moisture around it in the morning.
They began with a series of boundaries, racing to 34 for none in the first five overs, scoring at 6.8 runs per over. Zaheer Khan (0-20) and Mohammad Shami (0-23) tried attacking them but to no avail.
Coming on to bowl in the seventh over, Ishant Sharma (0-18) bowled a lively spell, troubling both batsmen with a clever mix of incoming delivering and short stuff, but was unsuccessful in disturbing their partnership. Even Ravindra Jadeja (0-20) couldn’t do much, when spin was introduced in the 12th over, as the Proteas completely signed the second day to their name.
Earlier, Steyn took six for 100 in 30 overs to bowl the visitors out for 334 runs in their first innings. The latter two sessions of the day were extended by half an hour each, in order to make up for time lost in the morning. That allowed Steyn to completely rock the Indian batting, as he took three wickets on either side of the tea-break,.
Morne Morkel was his partner-in-crime, picking up three for 50, from 23.3 overs. Vernon Philander (0-56), Jacques Kallis (0-36), Robin Peterson (0-75) and JP Duminy (1-10) provided able support to the two bowlers, while Ajinkya Rahane (51 not out, 121 balls, eight fours) was the unbeaten batsman.
Post the tea-break, India started at 271 for five, with skipper MS Dhoni looking to build the innings with Rahane (23 not out). Morkel and Peterson started the proceedings and that allowed the batsmen to score a few runs in Steyn’s absence. They brought up the 300-mark in the 102nd over.
Then the pacer returned to snap up Dhoni in the 107th over, with the pressure building up as the runs had dried. The Indian captain was out driving, his counterpart Graeme Smith made no mistake at first slip. He scored 24 runs, off 40 balls, with three fours, putting on 55 runs with Rahane for the sixth wicket.
That started the slide for the tail, with Ravindra Jadeja out for a duck (three balls), caught at slip by Kallis off Duminy. It was his 200th catch in Test cricket and Kallis became only the second man to reach the mark after Rahul Dravid (210 catches in 164 Tests) to do so.
Zaheer Khan (0), meanwhile, was caught behind by AB de Villiers in the 109th over, who jumped high to take a one-handed catch. He was snapped up by Steyn, who completed his 22nd five-wicket haul in 69 Tests. He wasn’t done, getting Ishant Sharma three balls (0) later, finishing with six wickets in this innings.
Rahane played the lone hand in guiding the lower order, bringing up his maiden Test fifty in the 110th over. He was unbeaten in the end, as Morkel removed Mohd. Shami (1) two overs later, out caught at first slip, to wind up the Indian innings. Earlier, play started at 12.40 pm local time with the morning session washed away.
Steyn had last taken a wicket in the first innings of the first Test at Johannesburg, when he had dismissed Shikhar Dhawan. Since then he bowled 69.2 overs in the second innings there as well yesterday’s play combined, giving away 217 runs without any success.
But here he bowled a fiery, inspired spell,determined to break his wickets’ duck even as Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara continued their unbeaten 140-run second wicket stand from overnight.
Their stand was broken in the 67th over, when Steyn had peppered both batsmen with short deliveries, not allowing them to get their feet moving. Pujara was out caught behind, driving the ball pitched just short of length and outside the off-stump.
Steyn further roughed up Vijay in the 69th over, not allowing him to reach the three-figure-mark. Eventually, Vijay never got there, gloving to keeper AB de Villiers off another short one down the leg-side from Steyn.
The very next ball, Rohit Sharma was bowled, for a golden duck, shouldering arms to a ball that reversed and came in. His middle stump was knocked back as India lost their third wicket of the day, reduced to 199 for four, losing three wickets for one run.
Steyn was denied his hat-trick by Virat Kohli (46 runs, 87 balls, five fours), who flicked it for four and then went about rebuilding the innings with Rahane. They brought up their 50-partnership in the 87th over, also when India crossed the 250-run mark, and it seemed that they might have braved the storm.
Just then, Morkel tempted Kohli to glance one down the leg side and de Villiers took a stunning one-handed catch, diving to his left. Dhoni then came out to bat with five minutes to go for the tea break, and in Rahane’s company took India into the break.
On day one, India won the toss and elected to bat first following which the unbeaten 140-run stand between Vijay and Pujara for the second wicket took them to 181 for one when bad light halted play approximately ninety minutes before stumps.
The first Test of the series, played at Johannesburg, was drawn, after a pulsating fifth day, wherein South Africa just stopped eight runs short of a world-record fourth innings’ chase after India had set them a target of 458 runs.
© Cricket World 2013