Biswajit Jha/Chayan Rastogi
Cape Town: Opener Gautam Gambhir and run-machine Sachin Tendulkar steadied Indian first innings reply in the last session of the second day as India ended day two at 142/2 to restore the balance in the series deciding third and final cricket Test here at Newlands.
Gambhir slammed a fighting half-century, taking advantage of two dropped catches and repeatedly hopped and jumped to ride the bounce as he remained unbeaten on 65 when the stumps were drawn on day two.
Tendulkar, who came to crease after the fall of Rahul Dravid, batted cautiously with Gambhir as the duo added unbeaten 114 runs in 39.2 overs for the third wicket.
Tendulkar remained unbeaten on 49 with five cracking boundaries to his name while Gambhir stroked eight balls to the fence during his stay at the crease.
Earlier, after allowing South Africa to score 362, Indian batsmen again found the going tough against the South African new ball pair of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel.
Opener Virender Sehwag was again dismissed cheaply as he played an upper cut straight to the hands of Graeme Smith at short cover for 13 off Dale Steyn.
Though Gautam Gambhir also had tough time in the middle against the fast moving balls from South African pace trio of Steyn, Morkel and Tsotsobe, he managed to stay at the crease due to a combination of luck and resoluteness.
Gambhir pouched an easy chance to the third slip which was dropped by Alviro Petersen but the delivery eventually got rid of Rahul Dravid (5) as he tried to sneak one run after the fieldsman grassed the catch but was brilliantly run-out by AB de Villers on a direct hit.
Jacques Kallis scored an obdurate 161 to guide South Africa to a fighting 362 on Day 2 of the third and final Test against India after Indian pacers led by S Sreesanth took 5 wickets in the morning session to break the back of South African middle and lower order.
Sreesanth’s superb show with the ball had South Africa on the mat immediately after play resumed on the second day. At one stage, they were tottering at 283/8 and were in danger of getting bowled out under 300.
But Kallis stood firm and with the help of number ten Paul Harris and number eleven Lonwabo Tsotsobe took South African total past 350. Though he remained calm and composed throughout most part of the innings, he broke free once he lost his lower-middle order.
Kallis launched a blistering attack on every Indian bowlers after lunch and helped his team post a challenging 262 which could prove out to be a very good total in the future course of the next few days. His last wicket stand with Tsotsobe brought a valuable 52 runs for the hosts. He overall slammed 19 fours most of those came today.
Zaheer Khan (3/89) finally ended the South African innings when he dismissed Jacques Kallis for 161.
Earlier, S Sreesanth completed a superb 5-wicket haul when he dismissed Morne Morkel for 8 with another swinging ball that took the thick edge of the tailender’s bat through to Dhoni’s gloves behind the wicket.
Sreesanth started the day’s proceeding by inflicting two blows in the consecutive balls on the South African to take the tourists right back into the game within the first hour on Day 2.
Sreesanth first bowled Prince through the gate for 47 with a perfect in-swinger. His beautiful outswinger then induced an edge from wicketkeeper Mark Boucher’s bat to go to captain Dhoni’s gloves.
Prince, who provided a stiff resistance late on the first day, fell pray to Sreesanth’s swinging delivery with the new ball which was taken a few overs earlier by M S Dhoni.
In the next ball, the pacer got one beautiful outswinger again which ended the stumper’s innings for a first-ball duck.
Zaheer, then bounced out opposite number Dale Steyn for a duck with a perfect delivery that took the Proteas bowler by surprise.
Paul Harris’ stubborn resistance came to an end when he was dismissed by Ishant Sharma for 41-ball 7 with a bouncer that flew towards leg-slip position where Pujara completed a simple catch.
Meanwhile, a nonchalant Kallis reached his century off 215 balls with nine hits to the fence. This was Kallis’ century number 39 and he is only behind the Indian batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar who slammed his 50th ton in the first Test of the series in Centurion.
On Day 1 yesterday, an indomitable Jacques Kallis played a gritty knock of unbeaten 81, after Hashim Amla played a counter-attacking 59, to guide South Africa to 232/4.
Kallis, coming at a difficult situation after South Africa lost both the openers without their score reaching 40, played yet another sensible knock under-pressure and remained rock solid at the end of Day 1 to deny Indian pacers not more than four wickets on a wet day when Indian faster bowlers made all the good noises.