Durban Test: Stern test awaits Indian bowlers on Day 3
Durban: Speedster Dale Steyn produced a fiery spell to rock the Indian batting line-up with a six-wicket haul as visitors squandered the overnight advantage to be bowled out for 334 on a rain-hit second day of the second cricket Test against South Africa here on Friday.
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Steyn finished with splendid figures of six for 100 as the Indians lost nine wickets for only 153 runs after play began in the post lunch session after a three-hour delay due to rain.
The 29-year-old Steyn brought South Africa back in the game after scalping three wickets in a space of 10 deliveries and then in a second spell wreaked havoc with another three wickets in 14 deliveries as Indians lost last five wickets for 14 runs.
At stumps, South Africa raced to 82 for no loss with skipper Graeme Smith batting on 35 in company of Alviro Peterson who has smashed his way to 46 off 61 balls with seven boundaries.
Having gone wicketless for 69.2 overs, Steyn shrugged off the disappointment with an inspired spell of fast bowling as he removed Cheteshwar Pujara (70), Murali Vijay (97) and Rohit Sharma (0) in a space of 10 deliveries to reduce India to 199 for four, when the proceedings started in the post-lunch session.
In the post tea-session, Steyn again hit back after Ajinkya Rahane (51 no) and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni had a 55-run partnership to take India to 320 for five before another collapse occured.
This time, Dhoni (24), Zaheer Khan (0) and Ishant Sharma (4) were dismissed by the South African speedster in a space of 14 deliveries.
In between Steyn`s scalps, left-arm spinner Robin Peterson dismissed Ravindra Jadeja (0) caught by Jacques Kallis at first slip, who completed the milestone of 200 catches in his last Test match.
When Steyn dismissed Zaheer Khan after AB de Villiers plucked off a stunner from thin air, he had completed his 22nd five-wicket haul in Test cricket.
Having started the day at a comfortable 181 for one, the Indians looked all at sea against some inspired bowling by Steyn who swung the ball at a fast pace and also got the old ball to reverse.
From 181 for 1, India were reduced to 199 for four as Steyn pitched one outside the off-stump to get rid of Pujara caught by De Villiers after hitting nine fours in 132 balls.
Vijay, who was peppered with short stuff failed to complete his century when Steyn angled a rising delivery onto the ribs which was gloved for De Villiers to complete a brilliant leg-side catch. Rohit Sharma`s (0) wretched form continued as he shouldered arms to an incutter that rocked back his middle-stump.
Virat Kohli (46, 87 balls, 5x4) tried to control the damage with a 66-run stand for the fifth wicket with Rahane, who also looked in good touch.
Both weren`t unduly perturbed the by the South African attack as they took the score past 250. Kohli played some nice strokes including a pull-shot off Steyn and a wristy boundary through mid-wicket off Philander.
Just when it seemed that Kohli was destined to get another big score, Morne Morkel (3/50) fired another rising delivery which Kohli gloved for De Villiers to give him the third of his five catches in the innings.
Dhoni joined Rahane and the duo took the score to 271 for five at lunch.
With left-arm spinner Robin Peterson in operation from one end, runs kept coming as the duo completed their 50-run partnership in only 71 balls before another slide was initiated by Steyn.
Dhoni as usual went for a drive and Smith took the simple catch at first slip. Jadeja (0) didn`t trouble the scorers as he pushed at an off-break from Duminy to give Kallis his 200th catch.
In the next over, Steyn completed his five-for as he De Villiers pulled off a stunning catch timing his jump to perfection as Zaheer Khan had slashed hard. Two balls later, another full delivery saw the back of Ishant Sharma (4) as India were reduced to 330 for nine.
Rahane, who had played well to reach 49 was stranded at the other end but Mohammed Shami played the final delivery of Steyn`s over giving Rahane to reach his maiden Test half century of the next over. It came of 112 balls.
Finally, Morkel who had complemented Steyn well, rounded off the innings by dismissing Shami even as Rahane remained stranded on 51 at the other end. India were bowled out for 334 in 111.3 overs.
Steyn had last taken a wicket in the first innings of the first Test at Johannesburg, when he had dismissed Shikhar Dhawan. Since then he bowled 69.2 overs giving away 217 runs before removing Pujara to end his barren spell.
Vijay (91 batting) and Cheteshwar Pujara (58 batting) wanted to further their 140-run partnership for the second wicket, and they both started off well. Despite the rain, the wicket still had nothing in it for the bowlers. But Steyn bowled a fiery, inspired spell, determined to break his wicketsless spell.
The first chance came in the second over of the day, 63rd overall, as Vijay drove past gully for a streaky boundary, beating Alviro Petersen.
In Steyn`s next over, skipper Graeme Smith placed himself at that position and missed an even better chance, this time Pujara playing an uncharacteristic shot wide outside the off-stump. The ball went for four and brought up their long-awaited 150-run partnership.
Their stand was broken in the 67th over, when Steyn had Pujara caught behind driving the ball pitched outside the off-stump. Pujara scored 70 runs off 132 balls, with nine fours, putting up 157 runs with Vijay for the second wicket.
When South Africa batted, Smith and Peterson were in a mood to score runs at a quick clip.
Both Smith and Peterson started hitting a couple of boundaries each off Zaheer Khan and Mohammed Shami in the first two overs to set the tone. Having been pegged back due to some inspirational bowling from the Proteas, the Indian bowlers looked clueless as it was total domination on the part of the South African openers as they hit 12 boundaries amongst themselves.
Both Zaheer (0/20 in 4 overs) and Shami (0/23 in 5 overs) were rendered ineffective with the new ball although Ishant Sharma (0/18 in 6 overs) did bowl a few good deliveries.
Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja`s contribution in this Test match has been negligible till now as he failed to score a single run with the bat and bowled five wicketless overs for 20 runs. More importantly, the South African openers weren`t threatened by Jadeja`s left-arm spin.
As the Durban Test enters all important third day, once again, the onus will be on Indian bowlers to avoid giving the host any lead. So, the Indian bowling unit lead by experienced Zaheer Khan should take a leaf out of Dale Steyn's performance.
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