India bounce back at Durban to level series

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

DURBAN - India bounced back with a splendid 87-run victory over South Africa Wednesday in the second cricket Test at Kingsmead here to level the three-match series 1-1.

Chasing 303 for victory, South Africa lost seven wickets on the fourth day Wednesday and were bundled out for 215.

It was a great fightback for the World’s top Test team India, who went down in the first Test at Centurion by an innings and 25 runs.

This was India’s second victory on South African soil, having scored their maiden victory at Johannesburg in 2006.

Pace spearhead Zaheer Khan’s return inspired the Indian bowling attack which had allowed South Africa to score 620 runs on the lively Centurion track. But here the visitors bowled with aggression to pack off the hosts for 131 in the first innings and then carried the momentum in the second. Zaheer was the pick of the Indian bowlers, taking six wickets.

Harbhajan Singh, who took four wickets in the first innings, also finished with a six-wicket match haul. S. Sreesanth and Ishant Sharma, too, stood up to the challenge while V.V.S. Laxman produced another of his special knocks in the second innings to set-up the match Tuesday. Laxman, who was Man-of-the-Match, top-scored in both the innings (38, 96).

The match was tantalisingly poised overnight, but the Indian bowlers produced some fine spells to outsmart South African batsmen.

With South Africa needing 192 runs for victory on the final day, the Indian bowlers dealt four blows in the morning session to stand on the brink of a famous victory.

Resuming at 111 for three, South Africa were struggling at 181 for seven at lunch with Ashwell Prince (39 not out), the only remaining recognised batsman, and left-arm spinner Paul Harris (7) battling it out.

They shared 27 runs for the eighth wicket, before Harris was cleaned up by Zaheer (3-57).

Prince and Morne Morkel (20) then gave some nervous moments to India as they scored 33 runs for the ninth wicket.

But India breathed easy when Morkel was caught behind off Ishant Sharma.

Lonwabo Tsotsobe was the last South African batsman to be dismissed through a smart piece of fielding from Cheteshwar Pujara who, positioned at short leg, rattled the wickets in a flash. The Indians broke out into celebrations.

Earlier, Zaheer picked two wickets and Sreesanth (3-45) and Harbhajan Singh (2-70) took one wicket each in the first session.

Sreesanth bowled with consistency and aggression and removed veteran Jacques Kallis (17) with a ball that would make any fast bowler proud. Sreesanth bowled a well-directed nasty bouncer that reared up sharply and took Kallis completely by surprise, hitting his gloves as he evaded the ball. Virender Sehwag at gully did the rest, lapping up the catch.

Harbhajan, who was getting good turn, pinned down AB de Villiers (33), who was a bit unlucky to be given lbw as the ball hit high on his well-stretched front leg.

Zaheer then dismissed Mark Boucher (1) lbw with a delivery that came back sharply and then nicely set-up Dale Steyn (10) with short balls before bowling a fuller length, forcing the fast bowler to go for a drive and Pujara took a catch at third slip.

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