Indian batters ensure ‘historic’ drawn series in SA
Chayan Rastogi/Zeecric Bureau
Cape Town: On a day when many thought all three results were possible in the match and thus in the series, Indian batters took defensive guard from the start and ensured that the visitors ended the highly competitive three-match series with good memories on the fifth and final day of the last Test here at Newlands.
The day witnessed extreme resilience from all top-order Indian batsmen on a two-faced track and with exceptional determination from injury-hit Gautam Gambhir, India ensured a first-ever drawn series on South African soil in Indian cricket history that also justified their numero uno status in ICC Test rankings.
India ended day three on 166/3 with useful contributions from Indian top-order as the series that was pitted as the battle between top two Test sides, ended fittingly on 1-1.
India started day five on a cautious note as both openers tried to negotiate the morning session without taking too much risk.
After Indian openers saw off the first hour of play without any damage, Morne Morkel struck for South Africa as he nailed Indian big fish Virender Sehwag to send some early concerns in the Indian camp.
Sehwag, who was being considered as the key-man for Indian chase, didn’t look comfortable since the start and was looking tentative against quality bowling attack of Dale Steyn and Morkel.
Sehwag (11) scored two boundaries in his limited stay at the crease but edged a good-length ball from Morkel into the safe hands of Graeme Smith at first slip as on-field umpire Ian Gould checked with third umpire for no-ball before confirming his decision.
Indian opener Gautam Gambhir (64) then dug his heals deep to post his second half-century of the match and added crucial 79 runs for the second wicket with Indian Test specialist Rahul Dravid as India crawled past 100 runs for the loss of one wicket.
Dravid (31) accustomed well to the variable bounce and movement on a weary fifth day pitch but edged an away moving ball from fast bowler Tsotsobe to third slip where Ashwell Prince latched onto an easy chance.
Gambhir, who made a fighting 93 in the first innings, adjusted well to the nature of the pitch and dropped anchor from one end- using his feet to good effect as he milked spin duo of Harris and Graeme Smith to bring up his fifty with eight hits to the fence.
Gambhir and Tendulkar battled some nervous moments against spinner Paul Harris and guided India to 114/2 at tea but just when it seemed that Gambhir was looking good to post a ton, Steyn ended Gambhir’s resilience with a short ball that kissed his gloves and was caught easily by wicket-keeper Boucher.
The experienced duo of Tendulkar and VVS Laxman then ensured that there was no twist in the tale as both batsmen batted for almost 20 overs and added 46 runs to end any South African hopes of producing a miracle.
Earlier, on fourth day of the match, Jacques Kallis told the world why he was the reigning king at Cape Town with his 40th Test century.
Standing tall as the only survivor of the day (109*), his effort took the South African total to 341 runs all out at stumps on Day 4 of the final Test of the three match rubber.