Jacques Kallis stood like a rock to guide South Africa to relative safety with his 34th century after the visitors got off to a wobbly start against India in the first Test at the VCA Stadium in Jamtha here today.
Kallis (120 n.o.), who came to the crease within half an hour’s play in the first session, and his third-wicket partner Hashim Amla (60 n.o.) defied the Indian attack for entire second session through a century stand which enabled South Africa reach 193 for two at tea on the opening day.
Playing in his 136th Test, Kallis remained unconquered with a responsible 191-ball innings and cracked his third hundred against India, while Amla played sedately.
The duo had put on 187 runs in three and a half hours by the interval with Kallis’ innings containing 11 fours and two sixes, while Amla’s occupation of the crease was 10 minutes more than his partner’s but included only five fours in 147 balls.
The second session of play produced 103 runs in 33 overs after the tourists resumed at lunchtime score of 90 for two, with the fourth hour being more productive than the third and yielding 65 runs in 17 overs.
Neither pace nor spin undid the duo right through the second session as the India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni constantly shuffled his bowlers, including part-timer Virender Sehwag.
Kallis, who was 55 at lunch to Amla’s 24, showed better attacking instincts as his partner crawled his way and took almost an hour post-lunch to add four runs.
Amla hit his second four after nearly two hours at the crease, an indication of how careful he was while batting on the slow-paced wicket with low bounce.
Kallis was slightly more adventurous and struck an off-colour Amit Mishra for a six over long on early in the second session when the leg spinner bowled a long hop.
He also hit Ishant Sharma for a superbly driven four through the covers but the scoring rate was slow with 38 runs coming off 16 overs in the third hour.
With the tea break approaching, Kallis turned Harbhajan, whose deliveries lacked the bite, for a single to bring up his hundred in nearly three hours, off 165 balls, with the help of nine fours and two sixes.
Meanwhile, Amla slowly upped the tempo and completed his half century 15 minutes before tea off 132 balls. He struck only four fours in reaching the landmark - his 17th 50 in 42 Tests.
While Zaheer Khan remained the pick of the bowlers in the first two sessions with two scalps for 30, Ishant too did his bit in tying down Kallis and Amla, but the spinners Harbhajan and Mishra were disappointing.
South Africa : First Innings
Graeme Smith b Khan 6, Ashwell Prince c Dhoni b Khan 0, Hashim Amla batting 60, Jacques Kallis batting 120, Extras: (B-4, LB-1, NB-2) 7, Total: (for 2 wkts in 62 overs) 193.
Fall of wickets: 1-5, 2-6.
Bowling: Zaheer Khan 12-4-30-2, Ishant Sharma 11-1-24-0, Harbhajan Singh 16-0-68-0, Amit Mishra 19-2-57-0, Virender Sehwag 4-1-9-0.