South Africa v India, 3rd Test, Cape Town, 1st day January 2, 2011

Amla and Kallis steer through testing day

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South Africa 232 for 4 (Amla 59, Kallis 81*) v India
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

South Africa's batsmen were tested severely by seam and swing on a stop-start day dominated by drizzle, murky light and a Table Mountain shrouded in cloud. By the time Newlands was bathed in glorious evening sunshine, though, the home team had lost only four wickets and had denied India the rewards that appeared imminent during the morning and afternoon. Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis, the most resolute of South Africans, manned the frontline and three consecutive half-century partnerships ensured the hosts edged ahead in the fight for the series.

The weather, the pitch and the Indian seamers examined South Africa's batting skills after MS Dhoni won his first toss in the New Year, having lost all but one of his previous 14. There were two rain interruptions and the natural light had to be supplemented by artificial ones, which required the batsmen's concentration to be at its peak. The pitch offered the bowlers assistance throughout, forcing the batsmen to be alert to the one that would suddenly jag back in, or seam sharply away. They edged plenty, but most flew into gaps in the field.

South Africa's innings had come to a standstill after they lost their openers - Graeme Smith shortly before the first rain interruption and Alviro Petersen soon after. It sparked to life during the period between the second rain break and tea, with Amla playing the protagonist.

Amla had batted with discipline, leaving majority of the deliveries outside off stump, especially when Zaheer Khan seamed them across him from over the wicket. Zaheer also went around the stumps and caused problems, beating Amla with a blockhole delivery outside off, inducing an inside edge past the stumps and a leading edge that lobbed dangerously towards cover - all in one over.

The pitch at Newlands wasn't as quick or bouncy as the one at Kingsmead, where batsmen could leave the ball on length. India's bowlers had not attempted a single bouncer when bad light and rain stopped play for a second time, with South Africa 61 for 2 after the 21st over. It was not that sort of pitch.

It was a pitch on which the bowlers needed to bowl fuller, and the Indians did. It was a pitch on which the batsmen needed to be made to drive, and the South Africans did. Kallis had driven Sreesanth with power through cover just before the rain, but Amla took charge after the second resumption.

He drove the first ball after the break from Zaheer through point, the next wide of mid-on, where Sachin Tendulkar dived over the ball, and another between midwicket and mid-on - all for boundaries. Sreesanth also urged Amla to drive by delivering swinging half-volleys outside off, two of which disappeared across the moist turf towards the cover boundary. In 4.1 overs after the second drizzle, South Africa had scored 30.

Sreesanth then tried a different line of attack, placing men at long leg and deep square and bouncing Amla, who hooked the first for six to reach 50 off 69 balls. Amla continued to attack, but not all his shots came off. He edged Sreesanth twice, first over gully and then wide of second slip. Zaheer also produced two crackers that pitched straight and seamed across the outside edge of Amla's forward pushes. On 59, Amla pulled Sreesanth again, but this time he spliced the short ball to Cheteshwar Pujara on the deep-square boundary. It was the only wicket that India took during the second session and it ended a partnership of 72.

Kallis had been quiet during Amla's burst but he assumed leadership of the resistance with AB de Villiers for company. Kallis had shouldered arms to his second delivery, from Ishant, and had been hit high on the thigh. He was later struck on the body while pulling, and he was batting with a wrist bruised during his dismissal at Kingsmead.

He faced a difficult over from Ishant right after tea, getting beaten by deliveries that straightened from a good length just outside off stump. He responded to that by flicking the bowler confidently through midwicket, growing his partnership with de Villiers, who had to tailor his free-scoring game to the conditions.

Harbhajan Singh was bowling economically, and the fast bowlers were always threatening to strike. Sreesanth did, inducing the edge from de Villiers with a perfect outswinger, snipping the stand at 58. Sreesanth also had an lbw shout against Kallis, on 54, but his appeal wasn't convincing even though replays indicated the ball would have hit the top of leg stump.

A noticeable aspect was the lack of aggression from India's bowlers today, compared to their performance in Durban, and they were slower in pace too. And once the sun came out, and the seamers tired, survival became relatively easier. Kallis was assured towards the end of the day, Prince was edgy at the start of his innings and they also added 68 runs to make Smith the happier captain at stumps.

George Binoy is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • spinkingKK on January 3, 2011, 8:38 GMT

    India should have brought in a good fast bowler(RP Singh, Munaf, Nehra, Balaji, agarkar) for the final test. At the moment, we have 3 bowlers who all bowl at 130kph. At least Sreesanth was faster in the previous tests. Even he decided to cut his pace down in this match. India's future doesn't look good with not many pace bowlers been nurtured and not many classy batsmen around.

  • anver777 on January 3, 2011, 8:06 GMT

    2010 was a prolific year for Amla & now he starts 2011 with a superb 50+......he's a real "RUN MACHINE" for SA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • RanjithShettyJordan on January 3, 2011, 7:50 GMT

    A noticeable aspect was the lack of aggression from India's bowlers today, compared to their performance in Durban, Because of mind game played by Smith and Dhoni fall into his trap. Why Dhoni has to give open statement about his players in the press. There are field umpires; there are match refrees, why should dhoni blame his bowler in front of the media. Australian captain dare to ask question with umpire, while supporting his bowler in front of the world. Why dhoni lose his advantage in the field, which is created by his aggressive bowlers. He can always advice in the team meetings or in the break during the match.

  • moBlue on January 3, 2011, 6:49 GMT

    @styx i watched the entire day's play as well, albeit on TV, as i did when india batted first at centurion and when india and SA both batted first at durban. the "conditions" at cape town offered lateral movement through most of the day, but *that* was it! there can be no other comparison made to the hostile conditions the indian batsmen had to face at centurion because of the quick pace of that pitch along with the lateral movement afforded by the damp track and the humidity in the air on the first morning. even at durban, there was plenty of lateral movement for both sides, but the key difference was the beautiful intimidating bounce of that pitch! yesterday's pitch, as the commentators pointed out repeatedly, had neither pace nor extra bounce. didn't you see that for yourself? every batsmen had extra time to play back-foot drives yesterday ...and SA faced bowlers yesterday with a maximum of 130 kmph generally... after durban, the jury is still out on the SA batting unit, my friend.

  • dummy4fb on January 3, 2011, 6:49 GMT

    Finally a winning side of d Coin for Dhoni...But, Team india certainly has to really pull up their socks in d final test....NO SPACE FOR REST..

  • alatar01 on January 3, 2011, 6:40 GMT

    Kallis is giving a lesson in how to bat in testing conditions. Thats what Test match cricket is all about - a stern test of technique and character. I might also point out that as of this innings his batting averages in Tests and ODIs both exceed a certain Tendulkar. Tendulkar's bowling skills simply don't rate against this guy - Kallis has more wickets than India's main strike bowler. Because of his all rounder status he doesn't get the accolades he deserves as a pure batsman. Tendulkar may win out ultimately in having the most runs in Tests and ODIs but the averages show he cannot be considered the greatest of his era let alone the best batsman ever. Bradman can keep that crown for a while yet.

  • Vnott on January 3, 2011, 6:33 GMT

    232 for 4 is a scoreline which Smith will be very happy but if it becomes 275 for 6, then the tables will turn. The morning session is key.... With the new ball around the corner, it is quintessential that India make quick inroads

  • Aussasinator on January 3, 2011, 6:23 GMT

    The killer instinct in the bowling is missing. India should have got two more wickets at least, in the conditions. Given the state of the wicket, the pressure will be greater on the Indian batsmen with so many runs already scored by SA!

  • stormy16 on January 3, 2011, 6:19 GMT

    I think SA did well given they were put in on a greenish wicket and the conditions were overcast most of the day and India basically have to get a wicket early on day two to ensure they dont let things get out of control. SA will be looking to get to 320+ which I think would be a good score on this wicket which looks like a result wicket and will test the batsman on all 5 days. If India can get two wickets with the new ball and restrict SA to below 275 they would be reasonably pleased but day honors to SA for loosing only 4 wickets on that wicket but it's all there for the taking on day 2 for either side.

  • dummy4fb on January 3, 2011, 6:16 GMT

    antman123: For England to get #1, SA has to win... that will/may reduce the margin between 1 and 2 and make 1 easier to target. (not taking sides just answering a question, and im not english)

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