Toss: India. Test debuts: N. Chopra, M. Kaif.
Once again the loss of the toss did not inconvenience the South Africans. Their bowlers turned in another superlative effort to dismiss India on the first day, when the pitch was at its best for batting. Then, as it began to help the spinners, as anticipated, their batsmen played with determination and discipline to put the game and the series out of India's reach.
India had brought in the uncapped off-spinner, Nikhil Chopra, at the expense of Agarkar, but even on the slow, turning pitch he proved innocuous, failing to take a wicket. There were also changes in their batting. Laxman was dropped, Dravid was promoted to open, and Azharuddin - forced out of the First Test by injury - returned to make his 99th Test appearance. Mohammad Kaif came in for Jadeja to make his first. South Africa ignored the obvious qualities of the pitch and reinforced their pace attack with Hayward, who had bowled with awesome speed against the Board President's XI on the drowsy Brabourne Stadium pitch. Cullinan's return from injury strengthened their batting.
Little went right for the Indians on the opening day, other than winning the toss at the start and dismissing Gibbs cheaply in the closing stages. Of their four leading batsmen, Ganguly and Azharuddin, whom Donald removed with a deadly off-stump bouncer, made minute contributions. Dravid and Tendulkar faced 75 and 76 balls, but could score no more than 17 and 21 respectively, with Tendulkar in his 76th Test reaching 6,000 runs. But for the unbeaten Kumble, who batted with courage and good sense for 95 balls to make India's top score, their day would have been even more disastrous. All the South African bowlers drew blood, emphasising their efficiency and the extent of their resources.
South Africa were in the lead before they lost their second wicket, that of night-watchman Boje shortly before tea on the second day. Apart from a low caught-and-bowled chance to Kumble, at 37, he had always looked secure and, with well-chosen shots square of the wicket and the occasionalsumptuous drive, he outscored Kirsten. When 58, Kirsten became the first South African to 4,000 Test runs. Both fell to the admirable Kumble in the space of eight overs - Boje playing down the wrong line, Kirsten beaten by bounce and caught at short leg - but India had to wait until the next morning for further success.
Kallis was again the stumbling-block. Though frequently discomforted by Srinath's leg-cutters, he stayed more than seven hours and faced 359 balls for his 95, adding 85 with the ebullient Cullinan and 164 in just over four hours with an uncharacteristically workmanlike Klusener, who was moved up the order because India's bowlers were less happy against left-handers. Klusener had faced 169 balls when, with a century in his grasp, he lost patience; Kallis fell soon after to a vicious ball from Kumble. He and Kartik were both turning the ball at will now and, with the bounce also awkward, the last four wickets added only 38. Kumble's marathon effort earned him six wickets and he remained a strong contender for the match award even after Boje, linking accuracy and available turn, had picked up five wickets in India's second innings. Kumble was also a dedicated ally in a partnership of 96 that saw Azharuddin reach the only century of the series for either side. It contained two sixes and 13 fours, and no sooner was it completed than Azharuddin holed out with a wanton shot.