South Africa v India, 2nd Test, Durban, 4th day December 29, 2013

Emotions high during Kallis' last stand

Jacques Kallis signed off with a century, and his team-mates lived through the last 20 runs before lining up to congratulate the allrounder on a career well played

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When Jacques Kallis went to bed on Saturday night, he was 78 not out after the third day of his final Test. None of his team-mates really knew what was going through his mind.

"He is a great poker player, so he's got a great poker face. You don't know what he is feeling," Robin Peterson said. "But I'm sure he was more nervous in the nineties than he was last night. It looks like he is just enjoying himself in his last game."

Kallis later revealed how he had felt. "It is a special feeling. It's strange walking out to bat knowing that there is no tomorrow and it will be your last opportunity to get a hundred for your country," he said. "It's a different kind of pressure, being in the nineties for the last time, so it was different to normally being in the nineties."

He spent 49 deliveries moving from 78 to 100, and 20 of them were in the nineties. Petersen said the dressing room lived every one of them. "With 20 runs to go, all the boys were playing the innings with him," he said.

They sat in their box, all looking out of the window, ensuring they didn't miss a thing. Morne Morkel was in the front row with Graeme Smith. Kallis drove to enter the nineties and their expressions grew more anxious with every ball. He left one alone and then clipped through square leg to add one more and stay on strike.

Then Kallis blocked two deliveries from Ravindra Jadeja and worked one to fine leg, and then to square to move to 94. He was beaten by Mohammad Shami, had a short ball hurled at him, survived a yorker and saw one go down the leg side. No run in that over. Nails were bitten.

But 98 came quickly after that, when Jadeja went down the leg side and Kallis played delicately to fine leg. The scoreboard declared him the third highest run-scorer in Test cricket. It was wrong. Three forward-defensives followed, then a single off Shami to move to 99, and three more blocks.

Finally, a nudge to mid-on and a stroll. A 100. Kallis whirled his bat in the air, removed his helmet, looked to the skies and saluted the dressing room. They were on their feet, saluting him back. The Indian fielders were applauding. Kallis owned that moment.

The mood lightened as soon as the milestone was achieved and the focus shifted to South Africa building their lead. By the time he had actually gone past Rahul Dravid to slot into third on the all-time list, the scoreboard had forgotten all about it.

In the next over, Kallis had had enough. He tried to sweep Jadeja but top-edged to offer Dhoni a catch. As soon as he did, the South African players rushed down the steps to greet him. Smith was the first person Kallis met and the captain planted a kiss on his right temple.

"A lot of guys were emotional [as] they went to meet him on the steps," Peterson said. "I was padding up so I couldn't join them. I'm pretty bummed about that. But it was really emotional, especially for the guys who have played with him for a long time. He has raised the bar as far as allrounders are concerned. It was great to see."

Kallis enjoyed the rest of the afternoon with his feet up watching Peterson and du Plessis bat. Smith was next to him the entire time. He had time to think about the innings he had just completed, which started slowly and cautiously, and gave it his stamp of approval.

"In the situation that we were in, it was important to consolidate a bit and make sure we got back on track after losing a few wickets," Kallis said. "We basically tried to pace the innings and keep the scoreboard ticking. It was quite difficult to score because the wicket is quite slow. They put up defensive fields and bowled quite defensively. As we got closer to their total we could afford to be more positive. I thought the guys really paced the innings well."

After South Africa were bowled out for 500, with a lead of 166, Kallis was second last out of the change room. He warmed up and took his place at second slip where nothing came his way. It's likely to be in that position that he will stand on the final day.

"I think he had a bit of a niggle towards the end of his batting," Peterson said, referring to the treatment Kallis received during the drinks break. "We are probably going to have to carry him through his last Test. He has done enough in his career, so hopefully we can do the work and he can just stand at slip."

There are no more milestones for Kallis to chase. He has already claimed his 200th catch and at 292 wickets, 300 is unlikely to be in his sights. All he needs to do is enjoy the final day while the rest are sweating over how to send him off with a win. "He richly deserves to do that," Peterson said. "All the guys just want him to enjoy his last moments."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent