Zee Media Bureau/Suyash Srivastava
Johannesburg: At one stage on day four of the first Test match, South Africa were looking in total command of the game after their openers – Graeme Smith and Alviro Pietersen - got their side to a rollicking start by adding 108 runs for the first-wicket partnership. But then the Proteas skipper went for a suicidal single, and his dismissal gave India a chance to make a comeback, which they did.
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After Smith’s dismissal, Hashim Amla got out in the most bizarre manner. Hamla saw a short ball from Mohammad Shami and ducked it anticipating severe bounce. But the ball kept low and went on to hit his off-stump. Amla looked devastated as India once again strengthened their grip on the first Test.
Earlier in the day, Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli continued from where they had left the game on day three and extended their partnership to 222 runs. The partnership was broken by Jacques Kallis, as minutes after reaching 150 runs, Pujara nicked one to AB de Villiers. Virat Kohli on the other hand missed out on another record, when he was dismissed by JP Duminy for 96 runs.
Had Kohli scored four more runs, he would have become the only fourth Indian to score a century in each innings of a Test. Vijay Hazare, Sunil Gavaskar and Rahul Dravid are the only three Indian batsmen to have done so in the past.
When Kohli was dismissed, India had scored 219 runs. MS Dhoni and Ajinkya Rahane added a 45-run partnership for the sixth wicket. Once Rahane was dismissed by Philander, Dhoni tried to play some aggressive strokes during which he was caught at deep cover by Elgan off Philander’s bowling.
The lower order couldn’t resist much, even though Zaheer Khan played a crucial knock of 29 runs, where he hit two sixes off Imran Tahir and Dale Steyn. Zaheer’s cameo boosted India’s total to 421 runs.
Chasing 458 to win the match, South Africa came up with a superb reply after their openers stitched a century-partnership. But those two wickets towards the end, especially of Hashim Amla, were a blow for the home team.
The first Test has witnessed several ups and downs in the last four days, and the final day could probably see a fascinating finish.