Indian batting failed for the second time to a potent fast bowling attack from the Proteas. The visitors finished a comprehensive innings and 90 runs victory in just three days with India getting bowled out in their second innings for 328. The South Africans declared their first innings straightaway this morning and went onto take 10 Indian second innings wickets in a little over 94 overs.
The day’s play got off to a 30-minute delayed start at 9:30 because of the outfield being wet because of overnight rain. Graeme Smith did the right thing in getting India to bat on a track that was fresh with the morning moisture. Virender Sehwag took the strike in the first over against Dale Steyn to hit him twice over square leg for a couple of daring sixes! But Sehwag was troubled by Makhaya Ntini and a superb inswinger caught him in the crease. Sehwag had made an entertaining little innings of 17 (from 20 balls) with a boundary and two sixes. India tried to repair the early damage through Jaffer and Dravid until the latter got yet another beauty to be dismissed cheaply. This time it was a nasty lifter from the tall Morne Morkel which made Dravid (17 from 41 balls ) helplessly fend behind. Wasim Jaffer (19 from 53 balls) followed Dravid back in the pavilion after 11 deliveries when he was caught in the slips off a Kallis’ outswinger that saw him tentatively forward.
India finished the morning session at a disappointing 95 for 3 in 25 overs. The experienced pair of Laxman and Ganguly showed some promise but the question was could they go on to make their fight last long. And the answer was no with Laxman falling to a false drive to a Morne Morkel delivery which found a faint edge. Laxman lasted for just 45 deliveries and he had looked good for his 35 which had six boundaries. The loss of Laxman didn’t get on the mind of Ganguly as the left hander forged a well controlled partnership with MS Dhoni to lead India’s fightback. India managed to survive the afternoon session and went to Tea at 191 for 4. Ganguly after Tea was closing on a hundred but an umpiring error cost him his 16th test hundred. The southpaw had made a wonderfully made 87 (from 149 balls with 8 fours) before he was given caught behind off Steyn. Ganguly was unlucky as it was the bat hitting the turf that made all the wrong impressions of a nick. Ganguly and Dhoni had put on 110 runs for the 5th wicket which lasted nearly 36 overs.
After Ganguly’s exit, there was no fight at all from the remaining players. Dhoni, who had worked hard to get to his 9th fifty got out to a tame shot off Ntini to be caught in the slips. He made a patient 52 (from 132 balls with 5 fours) in a stay of exactly 200 minutes. The rest of the Indian batting was cleaned up by the combination of Steyn, Harris and Ntini. Irfan Pathan helped himself to an unbeaten 43 (from 77 balls with 4 fours and a six) which reduced the margin of defeat. Much to the relief, India were bowled by the end of the day’s play which went nearly upto 5:45 PM. AB de Villiers was the Man of the Match but it was the South Africa pace trio that set the match up. Steyn and Ntini shared three wickets each while Morkel came up with two and Kallis, Harris got a wicket each. This incidentally happens to be India’s only innings defeat since 2001 and it was their worst defeat in the last 50 years! It’s going to be one big task for the Indians to come back from this morale shattering defeat to win the last test at Kanpur to draw this Test Series.