India take 87-run first-innings lead against South Africa

March 29th, 2008 - 5:42 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Harbhajan Singh
By Anand Philar
Chennai, March 29 (IANS) Rahul Dravid completed 10,000 runs and scored his 25th century as India took a 87-run first innings lead against South Africa on the fourth day of the first cricket Test here Saturday. Replying to South Africa’s 540, India were all out for 627 - a lead of 87 runs. South Africa, in their second innings, lost captain Graeme Smith for 35 soon after the drinks interval in the third and final session. Earlier, at the break, the visitors were 37 without loss, with Neil McKenzie batting on 17.

Dravid became the sixth player to cross 10,000 runs in Tests when he reached 80 in an innings that was so typical from a player known for watchful batting interspersed with aggressive stroke play while never seeking to dominate the bowling.

On 99 at lunch, Dravid attempted to step up the pace on resumption and fell victim to Makhaya Ntini who had him edging to Jacques Kallis at slip for 111 (291b, 396min, 14 x 4).

Fast bowler Dale Steyn then took four wickets in 21 balls in the course of his eighth spell of eight overs that he sent down with considerable pace and hostility to hasten the end of Indian innings. Steyn returned figures of four for 103.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the next man in, did not last long and attempted a few unorthodox shots, one of which led to his dismissal as he fended a short-pitched delivery from Dale Steyn into wicketkeeper Mark Boucher’s gloves.

Dhoni’s dismissal triggered a mini collapse as Dale Steyn picked up three wickets in eight deliveries, dismissing Anil Kumble (3), Harbhajan Singh (0) and Rudra Pratap Singh (0).

Sreesanth, at No.11, was given a working over by Steyn who bowled with considerable hostility. He was struck on his left forearm while taking evasive action against a short-pitched delivery that did not rise.

Left-arm spinner Paul Harris, replacing Ntini, then took his third wicket when he caught and bowled V.V.S. Laxman (39).

In the morning, India ran out of steam after losing three quick wickets, including that of Virender Sehwag (319) and were 547 for four at lunch, having added just 79 runs in 25 overs, a far cry from Friday’s run-a-ball pace.

Bowling with the second new ball, Ntini generated pace and lift to dismiss Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar (0) in eight deliveries to put the brakes on Indian innings. Both were caught in the slips.

A little later, Sourav Ganguly edged left-arm spinner Paul Harris to wicketkeeper Mark Boucher as India slowed to a virtual crawl.

The huge turnout that was hoping to see Sehwag break Brian Lara’s record of 400 not out, was left disappointed as the opener, looking stiff and rather tired after his marathon effort Friday, played just one aggressive shot for a boundary.

He then made room to play Ntini on the offside and only succeeded in nicking the ball to McKenzie to be out for a career-best 319 that surpassed the 309 he had scored against Pakistan at Multan four years ago. It is the highest score by an Indian.

Tendulkar never looked the part and belied all expectations by offering a low catch to Kallis for his 14th duck in Tests and third against South Africa.

Ganguly gave glimpses of his old self with a few boundaries, but in trying to cut left-arm spinner Paul Harris, snicked to wicketkeeper Mark Boucher after an unconvincing 24.

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