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

Steely Kallis weathers the storm

For the third straight time this series, he walked in with South Africa in a bit of trouble. Twice he couldn't rescue them in Durban; he ensured he made up at Newlands

There are many traditional things to enjoy in Cape Town around New Year. There's the world renowned wine, the mountain and the meeting of the two oceans. There's also the minstrels, who march through the city centre, and celebrate the coming of another year on every 2nd of January in a carnival that has been part of life here since the days of the Malay slaves. If you were at Newlands Cricket Stadium, there was another classic on display: Vintage Kallis.

It was the Kallis who, if he had lived in a medieval age, would have been Lancelot, winning battles for his King on command. It's the Kallis who relishes riding to the rescue, who is in no rush to do so and who goes on to do it with such grace and calm that it appears to happen as matter of instinct. It's the Kallis who, at the tender age of 22, showed the mental strength to hold Shane Warne at bay when he was playing in his just his seventh Test.

The situation may not have been as dire this time, and Kallis has played 138 more Tests, but the mind is still as fresh, as supple and as clearly rooted as it was then. Kallis walked to the crease with the score on 34 for 2, but it wasn't the score itself that would have worried him, it was the way South Africa got there. They were rattled. That much was evident when Graeme Smith, usually the picture of confidence, was plucked by his nemesis Zaheer Khan. Alviro Petersen was gone shortly after playing one of the shots he is best at, a drive, but like his previous three innings, he made a start and could not continue.

Cloud was lowering itself like a veil over the field, moisture was in the air, the wicket was green and the Indian bowlers had smelt blood. It was a tad more precarious a situation than one Kallis faced when he walked out to bat at 46 for 2 in the first innings in Durban and a lot more than when he arrived at 82 or 2 in the second. Batting was also tough then but Kallis was not able to rescue the team on either occasion.

In a stroke of misfortune, he was run out at the non-strikers end in the first innings and got out trying to fend a ball that rose on him in the second. In both instances, there wasn't too much he could do to avoid a dismissal. It was a massive anti-climax after registering his maiden double-hundred in Centurion and although there is never pressure on Kallis to perform for his place, there was pressure on him to perform for the team.

He brought stability to an innings that could have fallen apart because of the bowler-friendly conditions. He watched while Hashim Amla swung momentum in South Africa's favour with a pacy 59 off 80 balls. While Amla was feeding off some of the hit-me deliveries that were being bowled at him, Kallis was holding up his end, taking the odd single here and there, but mostly, leaving the ball well. It wasn't his shot making that has defined this innings so far, it was how well he left. Amla admitted to being in awe. "He showed his class today on a testing wicket. There were always going to be plays and misses but his technique was extremely sound. I was marvelling at it. His temperament is superb so he kept the innings together," Amla said.

Kallis shared three half-century partnerships, one of which will resume Monday morning. In his 321 minutes at the crease, he had only two clear-cut moments of anxiety. They both came in one over from Sreesanth. First, Kallis got an edge that went past second slip and would not have carried anyway but it must have unnerved him. Four balls later there was an lbw appeal that Hawkeye replays showed would have found him out.

After that, he was a wall. He combined well with Ashwell Prince later in the day, taking few risks but adding runs at a reasonable pace. If South Africa are to post a strong total, what Kallis does on day two will be crucial to their efforts. "Jacques's been the key to our team for the last 15 years," Amla said, an indication of how important he is in the context of the team as a whole.

Luckily for South Africa, Kallis is playing on a ground he adores and that adores him back. He scored two centuries in two Tests at Newlands prior to this match. Scoring back-to-back hundreds at his home ground is becoming something of a tradition for Kallis. He did in 1999 and 2000 and again in 2004 and 2005. He has not yet scored three, successive centuries in Cape Town, but on 81 not out, he looks well set to add a little twist to the tale of his great knocks at Newlands.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Deon on January 3, 2011, 19:48 GMT

    @ Dr.K.H.Iyer - Your comments are laughable. Not only do you not understand cricket, you also do not understand politics and history. The Cricinfo XI was picked by mostly English, Indian and Australian journalists and ex-players. As could be expected they showed a strong bias for players of their own countries and own eras. As for the Bradman XI - well, the great man died on the 25th of February 2001 and stopped following cricket well before that. He therefore missed more than 80% of Kallis' career.

  • cool on January 3, 2011, 17:30 GMT

    NO DOUBT Kallis is the man of the match, he has paced his innings so well that India will have to work a lot, lot harder to come back.Though I was supporting team India initially, now I feel momentum is with SA.The way Indian batsmen fared was simply funny to watch.Those chances given from tsotsobe, though were left in the field by SA fielders, SA still has momentum.From the way we see Indian batsman struggling,and MS Dhoni field placements, I can only see SA to win this test or a draw as a result.GL both teams.Hats off to Kallis you are the man, the match turner on whom team can rely on,just the way Laxman is for India.SRT is a legend of cricket.

  • khurram on January 3, 2011, 17:16 GMT

    i think kallis is the best player in atleast test cricket. no one even sachin is closed to him. kallis has always played as n when needed unlike sachin who most of time only takes care of records n avgs (for eg: sachin's first test day 5 efforts n today's kallis efforts). i m surprised abt umpires decision today sachin was plumb lbw but thanks to umpire for turning out that appeal. after 2nd test n today now things r getting clear why india is against udrs?????

  • Raj on January 3, 2011, 17:08 GMT

    Haven't watched the game but Indian bowlers have to go back to method that worked against Kallis - bounce him out. Kallis is very very vulnerable to bouncers.

  • Kalyanaraman on January 3, 2011, 17:03 GMT

    Kallis is really one of the all time great allrounders and has achieved what he set out to do. Almost as many runs as Rahull Dravid, as many centuries as Ricky Ponting, more wickets than Sir Gary Sobers and as many catches as Mark Taylor. This one man has done all this combined and set the bar for who can really be called an allrounder. In today's world of bits and pieces cricketers he is a true colossus.

  • Atul on January 3, 2011, 16:58 GMT

    good luck kallis.. So tendulkar comparison again.. Here is what I think he is greater batsman because is is good in all forms comapred too all competetion. KAllis is better complete test player as he is good bowler too.

  • Dummy4 on January 3, 2011, 16:56 GMT

    Dravid's meek performances on this tour stand out in direct comparison to Kallis' towering ones. India is now winning not because of a great no 3, but inspite of an insipid, listless, fightless no 3. Despite what Harsha has got to say about Dravid, the fact is that Dravid has now lost the mental will and steel to guts it out and triumph come what may. That he is not out of the team is only a reflection of the poor depth of no 3 talents in domestic cricket, and not because of anything great tha Dravid is doing.

    Kallis, though, like our own Little Champ, has modified his game to suit his team's current needs - a hallmark of a true, dedicated, and worthy servant of the game.

  • Kannan on January 3, 2011, 16:38 GMT

    To all those who dont understand Cricket well................. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> @ Point4: What is your point other than erroneous facts and poor analysis? Only two players have more than 20 MoM awards in tests: Muralidaran & Kallis? Does that make him better than Sachin? No! Please read the analysis by Universal Cricketer! @ Universal Cricketer: Agree for the most part! But Don remains in a class of his own! Sachin No.2 and Sobers No. 3! The Rest are a Class below these(including Lara and Richards)!>>>>>> @albstp : Yeah! Sachin cannot take as many wickets but Kallis ca not score such Runs and get real RESPECT from bowlers! McGrath, Donald, Warne all thought that Sachin was the greatest! Kallis doesn't reflect anywhere in the list as No.3 on the post Cold War era is Ponting! Kallis didnt make Bradman's XI, Benaud's XI or Cricinfo's XI! So those who have played the game and understand it better show it all! Sachin is greater than any batsman since Don............!!

  • Vivek on January 3, 2011, 15:51 GMT

    I am a big fan of Jacques kallis and as well as sachin , Sachin is no doubt a great batsman and good Personal , I LOVE HIM AND SO does every guy who likes him and hates him , They hates him cos what he hasnt achieved for their expectations. but As a player i would rate Jacques kallis superior than Sachin , considering the fact he is a bowler as well as batsman, he is involved in both the aspects of game , batting and bowling and looking at kallis stats , he has 39 centuries in 15 yrs of cricket , considering Sachin have nearly 6 years on him or any of his rivals ponting , dravid. Give those 6 years to talwent like kallis and ponting and see where they will land. i consider Sachin as great cos it takes a lot for what he has achieved but cricket is more than sachin and Kaliis will go one of the most unsung heroes in the field of cricket. i think he is greated after sir sobers and great as a batsman, kallis have been backbone of SA helps wen they need him the most , Cheers Kallis

  • kannan on January 3, 2011, 15:18 GMT

    Generations to come will scarcely believe that someone like Kallis once trudged the cricket fields of the world. whaddaplaya...Nearly 12000 runs, 275 wickets and 150+ catches. Super stuff befitting superman. It is a travesty that he is not always bracketed with Tendulkar, Lara and Ponting. Hats off to you, mate. You are sheer class.

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