The Chennai Test ended in an inevitable draw with the bowlers struggling to look penetrative even on the final day’s play. Opening batsman Neil McKenzie batted right through the day’s play to end on an unbeaten 155 (from 339 balls with 13 fours and a six). McKenzie had started the day on 59.
South Africa made an impressive 331 for 5 in 109 overs in their second innings before both captains decided to call the match off. On the final day, as expected there was some sort of assistance for Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh. However, the South African batsmen were well equipped to handle whatever little threat that was there. The overnight pair of McKenzie and Amla went on strongly and it was only the latter who fell in the first session. Amla, the first innings centurion missed out on a hundred by 19 runs. He got one difficult delivery that kicked off from the rough with a bit of turn from Kumble. He made his 81 in 148 balls with 9 fours to share a second innings stand of 157 with McKenzie.
In the afternoon session, the Indians for the second time were able to dismiss Kallis cheaply. This time it was a nicely struck shot from SA’s best batsman, a full blooded sweep which was beautifully caught in the deep by a diving RP Singh. Kallis made 19 and got out to Harbhajan for the second time. The next wicket came just after 10 deliveries with Ashwell Prince (5 from 11) getting a delivery that had the bite from the rough and Harbhajan got the bat pad to have SA at 272 for 4, which was still a safe lead of 185. After a brief partnership with McKenzie, AB de Villiers (11 from 41) fell to a bat pad dismissal as well with Virender Sehwag taking the wicket. SA were now 306 for 5 and the match was almost coming to an end. The Indians took the second new ball but couldn’t make any damage. McKenzie remained unconquered with his 4th Test hundred and Boucher was on 11 from 46 before the match was ended. The Man of the Match was undoubtedly the Superman – Virender Sehwag.
Both sides had batted well, so there’s nothing to worry about that department going into the Ahmedabad Test. The South African bowling came good on the fourth day’s play with Steyn and Ntini getting back to their own while Morne Morkel looked impressive right through the match. On the other hand, the Indian pacers looked ordinary. There were just a few good deliveries from Sreesanth. Kumble and Harbhajan did all they could on a lifeless slow wicket. The thing that separates the two teams is the fielding with the home side putting on an uninspiring effort. The Indian fielding was totally sloppy overall although there were a couple of outstanding catches.
The second Test starts from April 3rd at Motera, Ahmedabad which is traditionally a slow and low turner. The quick bowlers will be in play as well with reverse swing which was ably demonstrated by Javagal Srinath, who won a match against SA with a 6-wicket haul.