Resolute Kallis guides South Africa to 232/4

Updated: Jan 03, 2011, 21:02 PM IST

Biswajit Jha/Zeecric.com

Cape Town: 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 at the end of Day 1 on a day which was also marked by a couple of drizzle-breaks and fluctuating fortunes for both India and South Africa, who are engaged in a series-deciding five-day battle in the third and final Test at Newlands.

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.

Scorecard: Ind vs SA »

Down at 34/2, Kallis first stitched a counter-attacking 72-run stand with a rampaging Hashim Amla, and then, forged a 58-run partnership with AB de Villiers. His unbeaten stand of 68 with Ashwell Prince at the fag end made sure that South Africa completed the hard day without allowing India to take the day’s honours.

Except skipper Graeme Smith (6), all the South African batsmen got starts but somehow they frittered away the opportunity of scoring big to put their team in driver’s seat in a do-or-die battle. But it was the old war-horse Kallis, who stood there like the Rock of Gibraltar, mixing caution with aggression on a day when Indian pace bowlers bowled well and troubled every batsman.

Kallis’ undefeated 169-ball 81-run innings consisted of only 6 hits to the fence which testifies his dogged determination to stay put at the crease despite not getting easy runs.

Earlier, Indian captain M S Dhoni had no hesitation in putting South Africa bat first after he won the toss for the first time in the series. Though the pitch looked a good batting surface at the outset, the overcast conditions helped the Indian pacers who started the proceeding with two quick wickets at the outset.

Pace spearhead Zaheer Khan (1/62) struck early as he sent back South African skipper Graeme Smith yet again to reduce the Proteas to 17/1. Smith was caught plumb in front of the wickets for 6 off a delivery that came in a shade.

Ishant Sharma (1/39) inflicted the second blow on the Proteas when he removed the other opener Alviro Petersen with a beautiful outswinger that kissed the batsman’s bat on its way to MS Dhoni’s wicket-keeping gloves. Petersen looked solid for his 47-ball 21 that consisted of 3 hits to the boundary.

South African batting mainstay Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis then forged a crucial fighting partnership to guide South Africa cross 100-run mark. Amla slammed a fine half-century off just 69 balls to lead the African counter-attack with some majestic boundaries.

Amla, who was playing so well for his 80-ball 59 and was hitting a flurry of boundaries, suddenly lost his concentration, holing out at the deep square-leg boundary by Cheteshwar Pujara off Sreesanth (2/70) who somehow managed to break his saint-like focus with his trademark sledging.

The bowler once again came to the rescue of India by getting rid of AB de Villiers when the batsman, along with Kallis, was threatening to build a crucial stand for South Africa.

Sreesanth bowled a perfect outswinger which took the outside edge of de Villiers’ bat when the batsman tried to play an outside the off-stump delivery. The Proteas middle-order batsman played a sedate knock of 26 off 72 balls.

India would want to see the back of Kallis as early as possible on Monday morning to give them a great chance of winning the Test which would ensure their maiden series victory on South African soil.

The visitors squared the series in Durban on Wednesday against the world number two side after losing the first Test by an innings.