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The Best of Tests: South Africa fall just 8 short of record 458 chase against India in 2013

South Africa's AB de Villiers
©Reuters

Test cricket mirrors life. The ebbs and flows of the format have given birth to some of the most breath-taking cricketing epics. A Cricket World Series, The Best of Tests, highlights the finest of these spectacles.

 

Match Summary

India 280 & 421

South Africa 244 & 450/7

Result - Match drawn

Player of the Match - Virat Kohli

 

418/7 is the highest successful 4th innings chase in Test cricket, registered by West Indies against Australia in 2003. 10 years later, South Africa had a golden opportunity of topping it with 458 and they were right on the brink of it, but decided to play for a draw.

The first Test of India's tour of South Africa in 2013 proved to be a cracker. India were bowled out for a respectable 280 in the first innings on the back of a century from Virat Kohli.

 

Vernon Philander was responsible for India's lower-order collapse and prevented the same for his team with a counter-attacking 59 along with Graeme Smith (68). Zaheer Khan, who was returning to Test cricket after a year, picked up four wickets, well assisted by a 4-fer from Ishant Sharma.

India batted out of their skin in the second innings with Cheteshwar Pujara scoring his 4th 150+ score. Virat Kohli fell just 4 runs short of becoming the first Indian batsman, batting at number 4, to score twin centuries in a Test.

When India set South Africa a 458-run target, one that was never chased before, for the last innings, the visitors would have been expecting a historic victory in the opening Test match.

It looked like that when Alviro Petersen was dismissed on the morning of the last day. Jaques Kallis was then given out lbw despite the ball taking a thick inside edge. The AB de Villiers (103) and Faf du Plessis (134) show followed as the two put on a 205 -run stand for the 5th wicket.

Once Ishant Sharma dismissed de Villiers, JP Duminy departed soon thereafter and Faf du Plessis was run out by Ajinkya Rahane, India sniffed victory. However, with Philander contributing 25, South Africa were in with a good chance.

16 were required off the last over but South Africa had already shut shop and played for a draw. When Steyn hit Mohammed Shami's last ball for a six, leading to a draw, South Africa walked back to the pavilion with many what ifs.

 

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