The Durban Test has got into a super fast forward mode as 18 wickets went down on a dramatic second day’s play! After an innings defeat at Centurion, India have bounced back in style to yet again prove why they are the No.1 Test team in the world! After folding to 205 in their first innings, India turned the tables on SA by bundling them out for a paltry 131. Just when India thought they had the match in their hands with a sizeable lead of 74 runs, SA neutralized the advantage by reducing them to 92 for 4 in their second innings. However, the match is slightly tilted in India’s favour as they lead by 166 runs but they would like the pitch to remain spicy if they have to bowl out SA cheaply again.
Steyn, Morkel wrap up India’s first innings
India resumed this morning at 183 for 6 in 56 overs and they got bowled out within an hour for 205 in 65.1 overs. Dale Steyn clinched a five-wicket haul when Harbhajan Singh (21) pushed at an outswinger with hard hands to be brilliantly caught by the diving AB de Villiers at third slip. Zaheer Khan followed Harbhajan to the pavilion in the next over after getting forced to nick one that held its line from Morne Morkel. MS Dhoni then decided to play his shots before the inevitable and he smashed a straight six off Steyn, but in another big shot off the same bowler got caught at deep covers. Dhoni made a fighting 35 from 57 balls and looked good for few more runs but for the lack of partners. Sreesanth, the no.11 threw his wicket away miscuing a slog off Morne Morkel for a golden first-ball duck. Steyn finished with 19-6-50-6 while Morne Morkel got two wickets today.
Zaheer bowls India back in the match by Lunch
In the few overs before Lunch, India clawed their way back in the game by picking up four SA wickets thanks mainly to the return of Zaheer Khan who inserted the missing teeth in the Indian bowling attack. Zaheer got his bunny Graeme Smith (9 from 11 balls) yet again with one that angled in but swung away late to almost catch a leading edge to the keeper by the end of the 5th over. A few overs later, Zaheer got a lucky wicket when Alviro Petersen shuffled far too across in a flick shot and got bowled off the thighpad round his legs after a 39-ball 24.
India got lucky again in the 16th over when Kallis (10) at the non-striker’s end was run out while backing up to a Hashim Amla straight drive which deflected off Ishant Sharma’s fingers onto the timber. And at the stroke of lunch, Sreesanth got one to kick up out of nowhere around off to kiss AB de Villiers’ thumb and the ball flew into the gloves of MS Dhoni. SA went to Lunch at 74 for 4 in 16.4 overs with AB de Villiers out for a 5-ball duck.
India clinch 74-run lead as Bhajji joins the party!
After Lunch, Harbhajan Singh was introduced into the bowling attack and he struck gold in just his second over when Hashim Amla (33 from 46 balls with 5 fours) got hit on the frontpad to a full length arm ball infront of off and middle to be given out lbw. Zaheer Khan returned back for a new spell to get another lucky wicket when Ashwell Prince (13) dragged his forcing backfoot drive dreadfully onto the stumps.
Now SA played into the hands of India at 100 for 6 and Harbhajan Singh wasted no time in the clean up job. He then removed Dale Steyn with a top spinner which was edged to slip where Rahul Dravid dived to his left in a flash to pull off a sensational catch! It was also the 200th catch for Dravid in his Test Career! Dravid inspired his teammates with that and what followed were two more superb catches. No.9 Paul Harris (0) got caught nicely at shortleg in an attempted flick off Harbhajan and it was Pujara who had to react to his right to take it. A few overs after this, Harbhajan got into the fielding act running back and holding onto an overhead catch at fine leg when Morne Morkel (10) top edged a hook shot off Ishant Sharma. It was Harbhajan wrapping it up when last man Lonwabo Tsotsobe (0) dragged a slog off him straight into the hands of Vijay at mid wicket. Mark Boucher got stranded at the other end on an unbeaten 16 from 24 balls while his team got bowled out in just 37.2 overs! Harbhajan Singh picked up dream figures of 7.2-2-10-4 while Zaheer Khan settled with 13-2-36-3. All the four bowlers used by MS Dhoni got amongst the wickets.
SA hit back with the ball but India recover to build lead
India got off to a fine start in their second innings to capitalize on the 74-run lead. South Africa got their much needed first breakthrough only in the 10th over when Sehwag after taking them for a 31-ball 32 with 6 fours edged a widish length delivery from Tsotsobe to the keeper. In the 11th over, Murali Vijay (9) fended off a snorter off a rising delivery from Morne Morkel to shortleg to leave India at 44 for 2. In the next over, Dravid edged his drive off a wide juicy delivery from Tsotsobe to Boucher. Steyn came back in the 15th over to strike with the very first ball when Tendulkar (6) pushed his outswinger with hard hands to be caught at AB de Villiers at third slip.
South Africa was now pouncing hard on the Indian batsmen reducing the score to 56 for 4. However, a possible thunderstorm was weathered away efficiently by the calm and disciplined pair of VVS Laxman and Cheteshwar Pujara. Lot of balls were left alone by trusting the bounce of the Durban pitch especially by Pujata and whenever there was any loose delivery, VVS Laxman put them away for precious runs. This continued for around 17 overs before bad light prevented any further play on the second day. India got into the road of recovery at 92 for 4 in 30.5 overs at stumps with Laxman on 23* from 59 balls (with 4 fours) and Pujara working hard with 10* from 51 balls.