South Africa v India, 1st Test, Johannesburg, 4th day December 21, 2013

Petersen resists but India get two big scalps


South Africa 244 and 138 for 2 (Petersen 76*) need another 320 runs to beat India 280 and 421 (Pujara 153, Kohli 96)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Manjrekar: Can't fault Amla's reaction

South Africa are not an easy side to defeat as a record of just three Test losses in nearly four years testifies. India are finding that out first hand in Johannesburg, as the home side put up a stubborn resistance on the fourth day. India remain on top, more so after having squeezed out two major wickets, but another day of intense combat awaits them on Sunday.

India lost wickets regularly on the fourth day but that didn't alter the match situation much as Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli had already put the visitors in a dominant position yesterday. By the time India were bowled out midway through the second session, the target had reached never-chased-before proportions of 458.

South Africa's redoubtable batting line-up is stacked with players who have stellar second-innings records, and grinding out five-and-a-half sessions isn't a task beyond them. It wasn't Jacques Kallis (second innings avg 56.06) or Hashim Amla (53.51) or even opener Graeme Smith (48.06) who led the resistance early on. Instead, it was Alviro Petersen, possibly playing for his place in the side after a lean run in recent months, who soaked up much of the bowling and led a sprightly start.

India's bowlers didn't get alarming movement with the new ball and though there were edges and beatens aplenty, the only chance that came their way was a tough overhead catch for Virat Kohli on the first ball Smith faced off Zaheer Khan. It came off the middle of the bat, and though Kohli managed to get a hand on the ball, he couldn't hold on and it popped too far for him to get a second chance.

South Africa's openers were never really at home - the leading edge or the ball that squared them up was never too far - but they went for their strokes and the runs came along briskly. Petersen played a gorgeous straight drive early on, and accumulated the bulk of his runs through whips towards midwicket. Smith, as usual, specialised in survival, besides muscling the ball frequently to the leg side.

It was only when the openers have been together for nearly two hours that Smith seemed to be getting fluent, and the openers put together their first 100-run stand in more than a year.

India desperately needed something to go their way, and it did. Smith has never been the nimblest runner between the wickets, and in 196 previous Test innings he had been run out only twice. Today, with his team still needing an enormous effort to save the game, he was caught short attempting a sharp, needless single. The throw from the mid-on fielder, Ajinkya Rahane, arrowed in on the base of the non-striker's stump to catch Smith short. Perhaps Smith was convinced into going for the run as he played the shot from well outside his crease, but for a man who prides himself on his ability to thrive in high-pressure situations, this was a tame way to go.

When India won the Durban Test on their previous tour, the defining delivery was the one from Sreesanth that leapt at Kallis' throat and led to his dismissal. If India do go on to complete a famous win tomorrow, the defining deliveries could well be the ones to dismiss Amla in each innings. Opponents will consider Amla getting bowled without offering a stroke once as a bonus, but twice in a match is a bonus of the size investment bankers dream of.

While Amla shouldering arms to a typical incoming Ishant Sharma delivery in the first innings was inexplicable, he was less culpable in the second innings. He saw Mohammed Shami drop it short and ducked, but the ball stayed low, so low that it crashed into the top of off. Amla had said after the first innings, "there are two types of leaves - a good leave and a bad leave." You can't classify this as a bad leave, but it cost Amla his wicket, and he trudged off after staring at where the ball bounced.

While there has been plenty of intensity right through this game, there was also time for MS Dhoni to bowl a couple of overs when the light was fading towards close, making this the first time both teams' wicketkeepers have bowled in a Test.

India will hope they can take the remaining eight wickets tomorrow morning with the haste with which South Africa got them today. Pujara went on to his fourth 150-plus score of his short Test career before nicking behind off Kallis. Kohliclosing in on joining greats Vijay Hazare, Sunil Gavaskar and Rahul Dravid as the only Indians to make a century in each innings of a Test. He couldn't get there though, edging JP Duminy to the keeper on 96.

Dhoni holed out for a typically busy 29, but it wasn't as action-packed as Zaheer Khan's cameo - french cuts and wild heaves were mixed in with a couple of cleanly struck sixes, all of which had the Indian dressing room laughing gleefully. Zaheer's hitting meant India added 37 for the final two wickets, and pushed the target beyond 450.

Manjrekar: Indian attack out-thought SA bowlers

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • David on December 22, 2013, 14:15 GMT

    20 overs to go. A low 20/20 score. No fielding restrictions. No bowling restrictions. Exhausted men who have been in the field for 5 days. A centurion who has been batting since yesterday. Both batsmen are 20/20 stars. They are facing 20/20 stars.

    5 days of test cricket, and it comes down to the most simple equation in the simplest form of cricket. No pajamas are necessary for adult cricket!

  • David on December 22, 2013, 13:08 GMT

    Vishwas HS writes "@Greatest_game : use of DRS in a.series has nothing to do with guests....its the job of hosts to make sure DRS is available.... what a pity you don't even understand this simple thing.... never mind, you lost it.... I say it again ITS HOSTS DECISION WHETER TO GO FOR DRS OR NOT."

    The BCCI REFUSED to use UDRS. Can you understand that? Let me try again. The BCCI REFUSED to use UDRS. SA provides UDRS for all internationals - except with India because the BCCI would not allow the tour to go ahead with UDRS.

    I understand this simple thing. South Africa, the hosts, wanted to use UDRS for this tour. The BCCI refuses to use UDRS in bi-laterals. Do NOT try to shift the blame onto SA. It is India that ABSOLUTELY REFUSED to allow UDRS. It is NOT the host's decision when the visitors refuse to tour if UDRS is used.

    Do not say say SA refused to supply supply UDRS because that, sir, is not the truth. Again, The BCCI REFUSED to use UDRS. Do you understand that yet?

  • David on December 22, 2013, 12:57 GMT

    140 runs required. That is a T20 score, but nobody is playing this like a T20 game. This is far more exciting!

  • rey on December 22, 2013, 12:53 GMT

    If India deserve to lose it is because of the Dhoni-Fletcher fear of losing. They stuffed up yesterday by not being aggressive enough. memories of Carribean where they refused to have a go at a gettable target. This is an indian affliction. Nothing ventured nothing gained.

  • Android on December 22, 2013, 12:25 GMT

    @Greatest_game : use of DRS in a.series has nothing to do with guests....its the job of hosts to make sure DRS is available.... what a pity you don't even understand this simple thing.... never mind, you lost it.... I say it again ITS HOSTS DECISION WHETER TO GO FOR DRS OR NOT

  • Srinivas on December 22, 2013, 12:13 GMT

    @Greatest_Game, yawn! Move on mate. You are just giving one excuse after another. Simple as that. SA is anyway on its way to victory. Nobody in their right mind would say Kallis' dismissal as the reason if SA loses. If you get multiple wrong decisions like how India got in Sydney 2008 - some say 7, some say 12 and some say 14 - there is no clear consensus even to date as to how many wrong decisions were dished out to India in that match - in such situations you can say those horrible decisions as the reasons for that loss. Kallis decision - that's just an excuse mate. Cheers! Chillax dude!!

  • David on December 22, 2013, 11:55 GMT

    @ Vishwas HS wrote "@Greatest_game : well mister can you give me one reason why India deserve to lose???"

    Yes, mister, I can give you one reason why India deserve to lose. India refuse to allow the use of even the most basic technological review of umpiring decisions. Like India, I have no faith in Hot Spot, Snicko, Hawkeye, etc. However, when an inside edge is so obvious that even YOU admit that Kallis was not out, that should be reversed. India & SA could agree to that - this is a bi-lateral game. India refuse to use any system to overturn clearly incorrect umpiring decisions, therefore, they do not deserve to win because of them. They do not deserve to draw because of clearly bad umpiring decisions. If they do not deserve to win, & do not deserve to draw, then they deserve to lose - its the only other outcome.

    Sadly, until India work actively to establish a system of review, their team's great play will not get the respect it clearly deserves. Blame the BCCI, not me!

  • David on December 22, 2013, 11:31 GMT

    @ Afzal M Faridi wrote "Oh no, AB was clearly out :( but umpire didn't give him out, 1-1 (Kallis thingy)."

    UDRS would have given BOTH Kallis and AB de Villiers not out, and for good reason. Ball tracking technology is simply not good enough to show id AB would have been LBW. It really is not particularly accurate. The umpire's decision was correct - way too close to call, not clearly out, so the decision goes to the batsman. That is the way cricket is played.

    In Kallis' case no ball tracking technology was required. The ball was on target to hit the stumps, but Kallis hit it with the bat before the ball hit his pads. Under the laws of cricket that is NOT OUT. It is clearly obvious on TV replay. There is no question that the umpire's decision was wrong. Absolutely wrong. There was nothing that was too close to call. No ball tracking was required. No hot spot was required. No snick was required. Only good eyesight is required.

    And that sir, does not make it 1-1. Not at all.

  • Android on December 22, 2013, 11:17 GMT

    @dravid_pujara : I second that.... just what can we expect from some jealousy species who have difficult time digesting others success.... but seriously that philander guy lost my respect...I never expected that from any bowler, not from the southafrican top bowler....

  • David on December 22, 2013, 11:14 GMT

    Rod Tucker dismisses Jacques Kallis off a definite inside edge to give Zak Khan his 300th wicket. Its a travesty. The greatest player of the modern era, cranking out the runs at a strike rate of 92 per over, looked entirely capable of taking the game away from India. TV replay shows what Kallis knew - inside edge, not LBW. Unfortunately, Zaheer Khan wil always know that his 300th wicket was actually just bad umpiring.

    Up until this point I felt that if India won it would be deserved because of their play. I no longer feel that. India do not deserve to win because of umpiring error, one that was clearly evident. No predictive technology required, no questionable methodology, just one look at a camera shot & what was obvious on Kallis' face was obvious to any viewer. Tucker's decision was a howler.

    Cricinfo please publish.

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