At Cape Town, January 2-6, 2011. Drawn. Toss: India.
When the First Test ended, South Africa were speaking enthusiastically about winning
the series 3-0. After the stunning reversal at Durban, India piped up, renewing hopes of
breaking their jinx by winning their first Test series in South Africa. At picturesque
Newlands, neither team could force the issue in the end, leaving the series tied at 1-1.
For India, the result was acceptable on one level, as it was the first time they had come
to South Africa and not lost. But Dhoni conceded that it was also a golden opportunity
missed, as the core members of this team - Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman and Zaheer Khan
- were unlikely to be around for the next such tour.
When the game began, with Dhoni winning the toss for a change and deciding to bowl,
India were presented with their first challenge. In overcast conditions, and with grey clouds
hanging around for most of the first day, their fast bowlers needed to lift themselves and
pile the pressure on, but they were found wanting. Zaheer, Sharma and Sreesanth all
threatened occasionally, but never consistently, and once again it was Kallis who
emphasised his immense value with an innings of astute judgment and eyeball-grabbing
After the opening batsmen were dealt with fairly swiftly, Amla came at the Indians,
attacking with fluency. He and Kallis added 72 for the third wicket, before an ambitious
pull resulted in Amla's downfall. While Dhoni's bowl-first
approach was fully justified, conditions were not nearly as
helpful as they had been at Centurion or Durban, and when
South Africa ended the first day with 232 for four they had
done more than enough to negate the disadvantage of losing
The second day dawned bright and sunny, and the pitch
temporarily quickened, benefiting from the baking effect of a
hot summer's day. Sreesanth, marshalling his talent productively, asked many questions,
but none was difficult enough to trip Kallis up. He overcame the opposition and the pitch
to collect his 39th Test hundred, one he would later rate as among his best efforts
technically. Kallis reaffirmed his position in the sport's pantheon, and soaked up the
admiration of an adoring home crowd. But, more importantly, his 161 - in 459 minutes,
from 291 balls with 19 fours - bound the innings together, pushing the total to a healthy
India needed to show similar resolution to stay in touch, but what followed was the
now-familiar top-order wobble, with Sehwag falling to yet another poor stroke and Dravid
running himself out to make it 28 for two. Gambhir and Tendulkar were asked to repair
the damage, and it was only a generous slice of luck and some dogged determination that
helped them move towards safety, ending the day with 142 for two. Gambhir was dropped
twice, and Tendulkar was put down at second slip by de Villiers: each time the unfortunate
bowler was Tsotsobe.
The third-day contest was reduced largely to the match-up between Tendulkar and
Steyn, whose sustained, high-quality swing bowling at great pace was a feature of the
series. Getting the ball to move from lines that did not allow the batsmen the luxury of
shouldering arms, Steyn induced so much playing and missing that he was very unlucky
not to end with more wickets in the series than he did (21). But Tendulkar, taking a leaf
out of Kallis's book, refused to be perturbed by several close shaves, and negotiated each
ball on merit. His 51st century lifted the total towards 364, aided by a stand of 176 with
Gambhir and a late flourish from Harbhajan Singh. India led by two, and the match was
reduced to a second-innings shoot-out.
Harbhajan set to work on a surface that was starting to show signs of wear and tear, and
exploited the occasionally variable bounce that the rough afforded, pegging South Africa
back to 64 for four to raise hopes of an unlikely Indian win.
But, once again, Kallis towered above all around him, neither yielding nor taking a
backward step, and forced India to work exceptionally hard to earn each wicket. At 130
for six, when Boucher joined Kallis, India were within one wicket of the tail and clear
favourites. But the quick bowlers, especially Sharma, bowled into Boucher's pads, and he
raced to a half-century, adding 103 with Kallis, whose 109 - characterised by his decisive
reverse-sweeping against Harbhajan - made him the first South African to score two
centuries in a Test twice. It was his 40th Test hundred, putting him ahead of Ricky Ponting
and behind only Tendulkar.
India were left with 90 overs to survive for the draw, as they were never likely to score
quickly enough to reach their target of 340. Harbhajan had been India's workhorse,
sending down 38 overs for seven for 120, figures which only he himself had bettered for
India against South Africa.
On the final day, Sehwag - restricted by a shoulder injury which saw him miss the
ensuing one-day matches - completed a disappointing series (only 144 runs from six
innings) when he outside-edged to first slip, whereupon India slammed down the shutters.
Gambhir survived for more than four and a half hours for 64, while Tendulkar was
uncharacteristically restrained in making 14 from 91 balls. When the captains shook hands
little more than an hour into the final session, India had reached 166 for three at a shade
above two an over.
Man of the Match: J. H. Kallis. Man of the Series: J. H. Kallis.
Close of play: First day, South Africa 232-4 (Kallis 81, Prince 28); Second day, India 142-2
(Gambhir 65, Tendulkar 49); Third day, South Africa 52-2 (Petersen 22, Amla 0); Fourth day, South