Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar scored superb centuries to not only rescue India but also put them in charge to get a good first innings lead. India are ahead in the second and final Test at Kolkata with a lead of 46 runs and with five wickets in hand. The situation would have been a lot better for the hosts had they not lost three wickets during the last few overs of the day’s play. Nevertheless, the second day’s play at the Eden Gardens saw India dominate the bowling with a total of 342 for 5 in just 76 overs.
India had started the second day’s play by wrapping up South Africa for 296. The good looking last wicket partnership between Parnell-Morkel was broken by Zaheer Khan with the second new ball. Parnell played all around an inswinger to get lbw to Zaheer but the no.10 had added 30 useful runs in four overs along with Morkel this morning.
India in their first innings were off to a racy start with Virender Sehwag leading the way as usual and Gambhir working up some decent form again. The opening pair plundered 73 runs in just 9.2 overs before Gambhir was run out because of a misjudged call from Sehwag. Gambhir fell for 25 (from 38 balls) when Sehwag called him for a non-existent second run towards deep backward squareleg but changed his mind at the last moment.
Murali Vijay, the inexperienced batsman couldn’t consolidate on the good opening start and departed in the 13th over itself to bring SA back in the game. The stylish Vijay (7 from 15 balls) was forced to nick a good length delivery from Morne Morkel that seamed away off the grassy patch.
With the side at 82 for 2 and the South Africans back on a roll, the next batsman in – Sachin Tendulkar had to weather the storm along with a well set Virender Sehwag. Tendulkar brought in all his solid defence in play and at the same time provided the calming influence on Sehwag to see that India ended the morning session at 97 for 2 in 18 overs. South Africa would have made it three down but for JP Duminy in the slips dropping a sitter in the 15th over when Sehwag was on 47. Morne Morkel was the unlucky bowler not to get that big wicket.
The post lunch session saw Sehwag batting out sensibly in the company of his role model Tendulkar. The entire session saw South Africa go wicketless and India adding up 135 runs in 27 overs. Sehwag finished unbeaten on 125 and Sachin on 65 while India moved onto a position of strength at 232 for 2. Sehwag got his 19th Test hundred in just the 87 balls.
Almost immediately after Tea, Virender Sehwag was given another life when AB de Villiers, the non-regular wicket keeper failed to effect an easy stumping. Sehwag was on 128 when he danced down the track to Harris for a big shot but failing to connect his shot. Sehwag after that tightened up to reach 150 and also help Tendulkar reach his 47th Test hundred. Just when the clock was getting closer to the scheduled finish, Sehwag got out driving JP Duminy into the hands of Prince at covers. Sehwag had done his job by then with a potentially match-winning 165 from 174 balls with 23 fours and 2 sixes. The first six of Virender Sehwag was a cut over backward point off Parnell and the second one was a flat one over wide long on off Paul Harris.
Sehwag was dismissed in the 71st over with India at 331 for 3. It was an outstanding partnership of 249 that eased India into a formidable position. But in the very next over, Tendulkar (106 from 206 balls with 12 fours) too headed back to the pavilion when he edged his drive off Paul Harris to Kallis at slip. Just before the close of play due to bad light, Dale Steyn went through the bat pad gap of Badrinath (1 from 8 balls) with a late inswinger to reduce India to 336 for 5. At Stumps, VVS Laxman is on 9 along with night watchman Amit Mishra.
The South African bowling relied heavily on Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel while the back up bowlers didn’t look that threatening. Steyn didn’t get his wrist action correct today and the ball wasn’t swinging well for him. Morkel was good in his first spell but had problems with noballs and half volleys when he returned back in the afternoon session. Paul Harris, the main spinner was pedestrian to say the least and his negative line outside the legstump failed to create any impact. Instead he created a new world record of bowling the most number of wides in an innings. Harris for the record was called for 12 wides mostly by Umpire Ian Gould.
India would be looking to convert this 46-run lead to something around 150. Lots of gutsy batting is required to reach there with a lot depending on Laxman and Dhoni.