Tendulkar Ton And Late Strikes Boost India

Tendulkar Ton And Late Strikes Boost India
Tendulkar Ton And Late Strikes Boost India
©REUTERS/Mike Hutchings (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT CRICKET) Picture Supplied by Action Images

South Africa 362 (Kallis 161, Sreesanth 5-114) & 52-2
India 364 (Tendulkar 146, Gambhir 93, Steyn 5-75)
Third Test, Cape Town, day three

Batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar started 2011 in grand style carving yet another hundred, his 51st in Test cricket, to hold the Indian first innings together as India earned a lead of two runs on day three of the decisive third Test against South Africa in Cape Town.

South Africa then closed on 52 for two in their second innings to close the day 50 runs ahead after losing the wickets of Graeme Smith and Paul Harris.

Opening batsman Gautam Gambhir and Tendulkar (146) put on 176 runs for the third wicket as they resurrected India's response in pursuit  to surpass South Africa's first innings total of 362 runs. However, Paul Harris dismissed Gambhir, playing for the incoming delivery only to find the delivery hold its line for 93.

Earlier, South African pace spearhead Dale Steyn brought the Test match alive with an outstanding spell of high-quality fast bowling which made batsmen swing and miss regularly. First, Cheteshwar Pujara (2) was nicely set up with a series of outswingers just out side off stump and he then produced a straight one which trapped him plumb in front of the stumps.

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni(0) lasted just  three balls as he could not resist edging a perfect outswinger and Ashwell Prince pouched the catch at second slip. Meanwhile, Tendulkar was batting out of the crease to negate the swing of Steyn, playing with ease both on the front and back foot.

Just before the stroke of lunch, in-form batsman VVS Laxman (15) was found short of his crease as the left-arm spinner Harris got a hand to a full-blooded shot to disturb the stumps on its way. South Africa immediately opted for the second new ball.

India were in spot of bother at 247 for six but Harbhajan Singh (40) constructed the 20th fifty-plus partnership of his Test career with Sachin Tendulkar to bail India out . The upper cut from Sachin Tendulkar over the slips cordon for four off Lonwabo Tsotsobe brought the Indian deficit to less than 100 runs.

Harbhajan sent a bouncer off Tsotsobe out of the park into the square leg side stands when he connected with a horizontal bat shot. Harbhajan, though, was dismissed by a Dale Steyn bouncer which he hooked to find substitute JP Duminy at deep squre leg ending the vital 76-run stand for the seventh wicket with Tendulkar.

Harbhajan Singh was incredibly lucky as an outswinger from Dale Steyn kissed the stumps but didnot disloge the bails. The South Africans were livid as they thought Harbhajan had nicked it but umpire Ian Gould was right to adjudicate him not out .

To add insult to the injury, Harbhajan's straight hit over mid on for a massive six off Dale Steyn showed his prowess with the bat and brought up 2000 runs for him in the longest version of the game.

At tea, India were 316 for six thanks to the partnership between Tendulkar and Harbhajan. The post lunch session saw India scoring 79 runs in 25 overs as the visitors lost two wickets.

Zaheer Khan (23) hit a couple of sixes to overhaul the South African total as India were all out for 364. Dale Steyn was the pick of the bowlers returning figures of 5 for 75, his 16th five-wicket haul. Paceman Morne Morkel cleaned up the tail with  two wickets.

The Proteas missed the bowling services of all-rounder Jacques Kallis - out with a rib injury.

South Africa were then pegged back by two quick wickets by off-spinner Harbhajan but opener Alviro Petersen was undefeated on 22 and in-form Hashim Amla was at the crease yet to score.

The Proteas had got off to a stable start with openers Smith and Petersen showing lot of intent on scoring runs on either side of the wicket.

Smith (29) was adjudged leg before to a ball that straightened after pitching on the middle stump from Harbhajan as South Africa registered 50 on the board. As a result, the nightwatchman Harris arrived at the crease with five men around the bat looking for a catch.

Harbhajan then landed the second blow when Harris (0) didnot offer a shot to a vicious off-break as umpire Simon Taufel raised the finger. The last ball of the day was well negotiated by Amla as the track showed indications of variable bounce.

There was also late drama when fast bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth came back complaining about the crowd being hostile towards him in the ninth over. Both new bowl bowlers Zaheer and Sreesanth failed to find any swing from the surface which forced Dhoni to introduce Ishant Sharma into the attack in the eleventh over.

On the opening day, the honours were largely shared as Kallis closed unbeaten on 80 after India won the toss and chose to bowl, reducing South Africa to 232 for four. After South Africa were dismissed for 362 , India replied strongly, reaching 142 for two with Gambhir and Tendulkar leading the charge.

The series is level at 1-1 after South Africa won the opener at Centurion Park before India hit back in Durban.

© Cricket World 2011