India completed an 87-run win on the fourth day of the second Test against South Africa at Kingsmead yesterday to set up a series decider in the final match in Cape Town.
Set a target of 303, South Africa were bowled out for 215.
The match finished an hour after lunch, but South Africa’s hopes were effectively ended when overnight batsmen Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers were dismissed in the first hour of the day.
It was a remarkable fightback by India, who lost the first Test in Centurion by an innings and 25 runs and whose chances seemed to have nosedived when they were sent in at Kingsmead and bowled out for 205.
But India’s bowlers shot out South Africa for 131 to take control of the match and an innings of 96 by man of the match V.V.S. Laxman meant that South Africa had to score by far the highest total of the match to snatch victory.
STILL ON TOP
The win ensures that India will retain their No. 1 ranking in Test cricket, irrespective of the result in the final Test.
Second-placed South Africa needed to win the series 3-0 to displace the tourists at the top of the rankings.
Sree Sreesanth struck the first, crucial blow of the day when he produced a vicious bouncer that star batsman Kallis could only fend off his glove to Virender Sehwag at gully.
Kallis was out for 17 after he and de Villiers had added 12 runs in half an hour to the overnight total of 111 for three.
It was Sreesanth’s third wicket of the innings and came during a fine spell of one for seven in five overs from the start of play.
South Africa’s hopes were effectively snuffed out by two debatable LBW decisions in the space of three overs.
De Villiers, who had looked solid in making 33, was struck on the pad when he pushed forward to off-spinner Harbhajan Singh.
He appeared dismayed when he was given out by umpire Asad Rauf and replays suggested the ball would have gone over the top of the stumps by several centimeters.
No decision review system is in place for the series because of an Indian veto and de Villiers could not challenge Rauf’s ruling.
Sixteen balls later, left-arm fast bowler Zaheer Khan won a decision from umpire Steve Davis to dismiss Mark Boucher, although replays showed the ball would have missed the off stump.
Dale Steyn hit the first two boundaries of the day before he edged Khan to gully after making 10.
Ashwell Prince made 39 not out and there was a breezy innings of 20 by Morne Morkel, before South Africa’s resistance was ended when last man Lonwaba Tsotsobe was run out by a sharp return from short leg fielder Cheteshwar Pujara.