Ganguly leads India fight back in second innings

April 5th, 2008 - 5:39 pm ICT by admin  

(Lead, Tea Report)
By Avishek Roy
Ahmedabad, April 5 (IANS) Sourav Ganguly stood among the ruins with a fighting half-century as India reached 191 for four in their second innings at tea on the third day of the second Test against South Africa at the Sardar Patel Stadium at Motera here Saturday. Though Ganguly, batting on 59, was supported by Mahendra Singh Dhoni (28 not out) at the other end, there is still long way to go for India to save this match as the visitors are still leading by 227 runs. South Africa declared their first innings at 494 for seven after bowling out India for a paltry 76.

The only wicket to fall after lunch was that of V.V.S Laxman (35), who was caught behind off the bowling of Morne Morkel (2/46). The stylish Hyderabadi was in excellent nick and played an array of shots to warm the spectators’ heart but failed to carry on, falling prey to a delivery outside the off stump, thereby ending his 55-run stand with Ganguly.

After Laxman’s dismissal, Dhoni and Ganguly were tested with some short deliveries but both of them stood up to the task.

Ganguly waited patiently for the half volleys to come his way and caressed them towards the boundary. The former captain brought up his half-century with the help of five boundaries, while at the other hand, Dhoni kept on playing and missing outside.

Dhoni had his share of luck going his way as on two occasions he was given life by the South Africans. First a hook off Dale Steyn could have easily landed in Makhaya Ntini’s hands at fine leg, but the fielder misjudged the ball only to see it sail past the boundary ropes for six. Later Boucher missed an easy stumping chance of the bowling of Paul Harris.

Earlier, skipper Graeme Smith declared their first innings at the overnight score of 494 for seven, a lead of 418 runs, and unleashed his three fast bowlers to exploit the morning conditions after Friday’s heavy rains had made the pitch perfect for pacers.

And it showed in the first few overs as deliveries flung in and around the batsmen and swung viciously as Indians survived dangerously. By all counts, the pitch was more lively and tailor-made for the quickies than the first morning when India courted disaster.

Opener Virender Sehwag (17) started on a blistering note, hitting Steyn for two consecutive sixes in the very first over and it seemed this could be India’s day. After one dot ball, Steyn again strayed in line and Sehwag picked it off his pads in a flash to sent it soaring over the fine leg rope.

South Africa, however, tasted first success when Ntini trapped Sehwag in front of the wicket.

Rahul Dravid (17) and Wasim Jaffer (19) played and missed a few but also played some exquisite shots in between. Both fell nicking the ball to the slip cordon to the safe hands of double-centurion A.B. de Velliers. Morne Morkel snared Dravid while Jaffer fell to Jacques Kallis.

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