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October 11, 2007
The final day of the series, Inzamam-ul-Haq's last in international cricket, is set up nicely. Pakistan need 349 for an unlikely victory - and, more realistically, need to bat out the day for a draw - while South Africa would fancy their chances of taking nine wickets on a wearing track.
The match was set up by a declaration by Graeme Smith with four sessions remaining, after his 207-run partnership with Jacques Kallis, that set Pakistan a mammoth 457 to win. Kallis, who has effectively been on the field for eight of the nine days of the series, became the second batsman, after Aravinda de Silva, to score three centuries in four innings.
South Africa started the day cautiously, looking to stretch the lead over 450, and went about their task in a serene manner. With Mohammad Asif missing from the attack owing to an elbow injury, Danish Kaneria and Abdur Rehman - backed by the legspin of Younis Khan - shared most of the bowling. South Africa added 57 in a slow morning session, and it was mostly dot balls and the odd single that formed the better part of proceedings throughout the day.
Kallis was patience personified against the spinners, who managed to extract turn and bounce in batsmen-friendly conditions. Beaten on a few occasions by Rehman - even managing an inside edge onto his thighs that Kamran Akmal failed to hold on to - Kallis looked solid in defence and frustrated Pakistan. With the ball getting softer, Shoaib Malik decided to take the new ball and, curiously, handed it to both the spinners. Pakistan had a chance to snare Kallis after he mis-hit one straight down the ground but Malik failed to hold on to the catch after covering a lot of ground.
Smith's century, his first in over two years, was an innings of composure and patience. He survived a few leg-before shouts and was beaten on a few occasions by Kaneria's spin but the majority of the innings was spent nudging the ball delicately past and around the close-in fielders. However, there was a phase when Smith got a little too bogged down in defence and did not register a single boundary for 106 deliveries. He was eventually dismissed trying to sweep Kaneria but his innings laid a solid foundation for his bowlers to work with. If South Africa go on to clinch the series, Smith would have played a vital hand.
South Africa began well with the ball. Dale Steyn and Makhaya Ntini hit a fuller length and troubled the openers before Ntini slanted one across to indice a fatal nick off Salman Butt. Younis Khan, as is his wont, started off in a positive fashion. He constantly looked to come forward, trying to drive. He twice steered Ntini to third-man boundary before turning his attention to Andre Nel, who was guilty of bowling too full. Flicking and driving straight, he steadied the ship with Kamran Akmal. Akmal, who survived a thick slash off Ntini that flew just over the third slip, creamed Nel through the covers for two successive boundaries.
Paul Harris, hero of the first Test, pinged the off and middle line, punctuating his arm-balls with the one that spun slightly away. There was no alarming spin on offer yet but with a rough developing on the good-length region around the leg stump and the psychological pressure of batting out for a draw, it is advantage South Africa.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala