Indian fielding falters as Test heads for draw

March 30th, 2008 - 1:39 pm ICT by admin  

(Lunch report)
By Anand Philar
Chennai, March 30 (IANS) Two dropped catches perhaps shut the door on India’s hopes of a victory as South Africa went to lunch at 212 for two on the fifth day of the first cricket Test here Sunday for an overall lead of 125. Hashim Amla enjoyed a life when on 55 and again on 72 with Sreesanth dropping him off Harbhajan and then Rudra Pratap Singh fumbled with a return catch. However, he edged Anil Kumble to Rahul Dravid at slips, close to lunch after making 81 (148 balls, 9×4s).

At the other end, Neil McKenzie was batting on 88 (174 balls, 9x 4s) at the break and looked as solid as he did during his first-innings’ 94.

With only two more sessions left in the Test, only a miracle would bring about a result that appears as likely as the “heavy showers” that were forecast for the weekend.

With an unrelenting sun beating down on the cricketers and the South African batsmen as remorseless in their approach, the on-field proceedings lacked the intensity of the previous four days with the Indians appearing resigned to a draw.

Neither Indian spinners Kumble and Harbhajan came anywhere close to taking wickets nor did the fast bowlers Sreesanth and R.P. Singh trouble the batsmen on a pitch that had no demons in it.

Skipper Kumble did give it his best shot in terms of bowling changes, unorthodox field placements in a bid to open up the game, but nothing quite worked to his plans.

McKenzie batted as fluently as he did in the first innings when he made 94, while Amla, watchful as ever and who had nudged and pushed his way to 159 in his previous innings, continued in the same vein to frustrate the Indians.

The overall pace of the morning play was another indication of the most likely outcome in this match and as lunch approached even the 15,000 crowd grew silent, but roared back to life after Amla’s dismissal.

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