Jacques Kallis brought up a special unbeaten century to help South Africa bat India out of the contest in the third and final Test at Cape Town. Defying a painful side strain, Kallis batted for 240 balls to score an unbeaten 109 as South Africa piled up 341 to leave India with the difficult task of drawing the game on the final day on a pitch that has deteriorated at a rapid pace. If drawing the match itself is a big task, winning by chasing a target of 340 on this pitch seems to be out of question especially against the likes of Steyn and Morkel.
The match was very much under India’s control to begin with as Harbhajan Singh struck twice at the start of play on Day 4 to have the hosts reeling at 64 for 4. Opener Alviro Petersen added no runs at all to his overnight score of 22 when he shuffled back for a flick but only to get hit on the pad by a sharp turning off break from Harbhajan Singh in the second over of the morning. Hashim Amla who decided to play the sweep along with Jacques Kallis got out attempting the same shot. It was a turning and bouncing off break from Harbhajan which hit the side of the pad and then jumped onto the arm and eventually rolling onto the stumps round the legs of Hashim Amla who got out cheaply for 2.
South Africa now started to fightback with Kallis keeping his end secured and also keeping the runs flowing with some brave reverse sweeps. AB de Villiers used his feet well to smother the spin off the footmarks and the batting side was breathing easy with the partnership growing. It was in the 37th over that AB de Villiers committed a mistake of offering no shot to a Zaheer Khan delivery which came in with the angle from round the sticks and had enough bounce to climb up and kiss the under edge of the bat and crash onto the stumps. By this time, Zaheer Khan was getting some reverse swing going and he got the wicket of AB de Villiers (13 from 58 balls) just at the right time to reduce SA to 98 for 5.
The homeside didn’t face any further damage before Lunch thanks to a solid partnership between Kallis and Prince. In the start of the next session though, Prince (22 from 35 balls) played an uppish cut shot off Ishant Sharma to give a sharp chance to Sreesanth at backward point who obliged taking the catch. The score was 130 for 6 when an out-of-form Mark Boucher joined Kallis and was desperately looking to play a good knock to perhaps save his place in the team! Boucher not for the first time in his career proved to be the man in crisis time as he along with Kallis defied the Indian bowling for the rest of the post lunch session! South Africa now grabbed the initiative from India by going to Tea at 212 for 6 in 72 overs with Kallis on 67 and Boucher on 46.
It was against run of play that Mark Boucher got out after Tea when a long hop from Sachin Tendulkar kept low at ankle height to defeat a pull shot and have the batsman plumb infront. Boucher had done his job by then with an 82-ball 55 which had 4 fours and a potentially match-winning stand of 103 with Kallis for the 7th wicket! Despite the second new ball taken, India couldn’t take the remaining three wickets to wrap things up. There was more insult to injury as Steyn and Morkel went onto help Kallis add 87 runs for the next two wickets! Kallis also got to his 40th Test century in the process and it was truly a heroic knock considering his severe pain in the side muscle plus the pitch often raising a puff of dust whenever the ball hit it.
South Africa got bowled out just at the stroke of the close of play on Day 4 for 341 in 102 overs. Harbhajan Singh took the last three wickets to finish with 7 for 120 in 38 overs. He got his five-wicket haul when Dale Steyn (32 from 48 balls with 2 fours and a six) got a bat pad edge to backward shortleg. His other two wickets were Morne Morkel (28 from 45 balls with 4 fours) and last man Lonwabo Tsotsobe (8) who were both caught at long on trying to go for the big shots. Jacques Kallis stayed undefeated on 109 from 240 balls with 8 fours to leave India with an imposing target of 340.