Indian batsmen falter again to South African speedsters

April 5th, 2008 - 2:16 pm ICT by admin  

(Lunch Report)
By Avishek Roy
Ahmedabad, April 5 (IANS) India were staring one of their biggest defeats in recent memory as South Africa reduced them to 95 for three wickets at lunch on a lively track on the third day of the second Test match here Saturday. The home team was battling heavy odds on a pitch freshened by rain. To save the Test they have to score a massive 373 runs to make South Africa bat again.

V.V.S. Laxman (19) and Sourav Ganguly (10) were at the crease at the end of an action packed morning session.

Skipper Grame Smith declared at the overnight 494 for seven wickets and unleashed his three fast bowlers to exploit the morning conditions after Friday’s heavy rains had made the pitch perfect for pacers.

South Africa after all had a massive 418-run first innings lead to play with and Smith must have realised that now is the time to pull the trigger against the demoralised hosts who had been thoroughly outclassed on the first two days.

And it showed in the first few overs as deliveries flung in and around the body and swung viciously as Indian batsmen survived dangerously. By all counts, the pitch was more lively and tailor-made for the quickies than the first morning when India were blown away for just 76.

Virender Sehwag started on a blistering note, hitting Dale Steyn for two sixes in the very first over and it seemed this could be India’s day. First-innings’ demolisher Steyn charged in with short deliveries and Sehwag picked his third delivery and pulled it for a massive six. After one dot ball, Steyn strayed in line and Sehwag picked it off his pads in a flash and sent it soaring over the fine leg rope.

But Steyn and Makhya Ntini were churning out some unplayable stuff and more often the balls whizzed past the bat of Wasim Jaffer and Sehwag. South Africa tasted first success when Ntini slanted one to Sehwag and hit his pad right on line.

Rahul Dravid and Jaffer played and missed a few but played some exquisite shots in between. It looked as if they were getting into the groove and would survive the stinging session, but it was not to be. Dravid whipped one Ntini delivery to mid-wicket boundary while Jaffer drove Morkel through cover for four.

But both fell nicking the ball to the slip cordon to the safe hands of double-centurion A.B. de Velliers. Morne Morkel snared Rahul Dravid while Jaffer fell to Kallis.

Laxman brought some cheers from the sparse Indian fans when he hit four sweetly timed boundaries in 22 deliveries. Three of them were punched straight. He ended the session hitting Steyn for an exquisite boundary.

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