Durban: Weather gods had the final say on Day 3 of the Durban Test as the South African scorecard read 111/3 at stumps due to bad light. Needing 192 more runs to win, the duo of AB de Villiers and Jacques Kallis held fort and would hope to start the penultimate day of the Test without losing their wickets cheaply.
Keeping the pressure on the home team, Sreesanth had come up with his second wicket of the innings to send the SA top-order packing. He claimed the crucial wicket of danger man Hashim Amla for a paltry 16 and with the third wicket’s fall, Indian camp had an understandable bounce in their step.
Earlier, Alviro Petersen could not continue for long in front of a disciplined Indian bowling battery and succumbed to Harbhajan Singh at a score of 26 runs. The fall of the second wicket opened the floodgates for Proteas top order and the Indians were offered a window of opportunity to seal the second Test.
Sreesanth drew first blood in the final innings, claiming South African captain Graeme Smith (37), bringing an end to a solid first wicket stand. The partnership gave the home team an upper hand in the early proceedings with two days of the match to spare.
The strike came just before tea time, resulting in the South African scorecard reading 70/1 with Petersen giving company to Hashim Amla.
Earlier in the day, it was heartbreak for VVS Laxman as he was the last man to fall just at the brink of a well deserved century (96) as an outside edge flew into the hands of Mark Boucher, ending the Indian innings at 228 runs.
The effort resulted in India setting a steep task of chasing a target of 302 runs for the Proteas on a speed-friendly wicket.
The post lunch session had started with a bang for the home team as Zaheer Khan was caught by AB de Villiers off Paul Harris’ bowling at a score of 27 runs.
Tail-ender Ishant Sharma was no match for seasoned Jacques Kaliis as he was cleaned up for a duck before the psychological barrier of 300 runs could be crossed. However, Laxman ensured that India would go past that mark and aim for a series leveler at Durban.
This happened after the morning session on the third day of the Durban Test belonged to India as they stretched their overall lead to 292 runs.
Having lost three wickets early in the day, India were resurrected by the duo of Zaheer Khan and VVS Laxman, who put on an unbeaten stand of 70 runs as India went in to lunch at 218/7.
The morning saw Indian batting order witness another mini collapse with Harbhajan Singh and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni departing in quick succession, leaving their team’s scorecard at 148/7.
Soon after Dhoni’s dismissal, Morne Morkel got Bhajji caught by Jacques Kallis at the second slip as the tail-ender departed for just 4 runs.
Dhoni had departed after scoring just 21 runs as India lost their sixth wicket with 141 runs on the board. Dhoni was caught behind the stumps by Boucher off Tsotsobe.
India suffered an early blow on the third day as Cheteshwar Pujara departed with the total reading 93. Pujara made 10 before he was cleaned up by Morne Morkel.
Indian hopes of giving South Africa a big total to chase in the fourth innings rested on the shoulders of VVS Laxman and Cheteshwar Pujara as they started the day from their overnight total of 92/4. Laxman stood up to the task and though he would be smarting from missing another Test ton, his work have put India in a slightly better position than Graeme Smith’s men.