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De Villiers’s double leaves India on the mat

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GOOD SHOW: A.B. de Villiers congratulates Jacques Kallis (right) on scoring a century on the second day of the Test against India. The pair put on 256 runs for the fifth wicket to put South Africa in a commanding position.
GOOD SHOW: A.B. de Villiers congratulates Jacques Kallis (right) on scoring a century on the second day of the Test against India. The pair put on 256 runs for the fifth wicket to put South Africa in a commanding position.

Special Correspondent

Kallis scores his 30th Test century

Pathan struggles to make an impact

India’s fielding wilts under the onslaught

Ahmedabad: A.B. de Villiers denied India any chance for penitence, with an unbeaten double hundred that stood for the merits of percentage cricket in the second day of the Ahmedabad Test.

On a pitch that befitted such an innings, de Villiers, along with Jacques Kallis put on 256 runs for the fifth wicket, to help South Africa reach 494 for seven, when play was called off due to torrential rain at the Sardar Patel Stadium.

De Villiers looked in total ease through his 333-ball innings. His bat rocking in readiness and the front foot uncorked for movement, he handled the bowling with fairness.

As is the case when batsmen enjoy success, he had fortune to credit when Harbhajan left him missing a delivery that nearly cost him his innings. The innings was removed from risks, except when he crossed his previous highest of 178.

Perfect exhibition

Once past the initial periods of reservation, he allowed himself a cut off Harbhajan and fine-leg boundaries to censure R.P. Singh and Sreesanth for room.

With a partner in Kallis, he revelled in the perfect exhibition of Test match batting. The hundredth run was scored off Sourav Ganguly. Scooping the ball from the off-stump for a boundary, he made it to his fifth Test hundred and the first against India.

The landmark strengthened his resolve towards gnawing at the bowling. The bowling attack wilted and soon left him with more options. Harbhajan and Kumble were dealt with, with more severity after tea. Harbhajan was smashed over mid-wicket for a six that cost him balance. The ball landed on the roof. The double century was achieved by taking on Harbhajan’s low full toss for a boundary. The innings stood out for the pace at which it was achieved, and the commitment in going through with his chosen shots.

Able accomplice

Kallis was an able accomplice, as India saw the pair exercise restraint and aggression admirably. Kallis’s pull-shots off Sreesanth that fetched him boundaries carried with it his batting temperament.

A batsman known for his solidity, Kallis chooses minimal expression due to a contemptuous comfort in his methods. Sreesanth was dealt with forcefully to end the bowler’s wordiness, revealing what Kallis can do when intent submits to his capabilities.

Sreesanth experienced a newfound consistency in parts of his spells. The line deserved success, which he experienced. The short ball nearly helped him nail Kallis, after the latter slapped it to watch it fall just short of Kumble at gully.

The leg-side flick through to mid-wicket that often reflects the form he’s in was summoned. The drive he flaunts with the knee pushed down for balance and a show of disdain, fetched him plenty.

Kallis marked Ganguly for the century as well. The drive that split short-mid-off and cover for a boundary, gave him his 30th Test century. Like all his other centuries, this one promised a more prolonged existence.

Sreesanth’s first ball after lunch was pulled, after which the next delivery fell wide of Dravid. Kallis was left in doubt in playing the next delivery and found the inside-edge.

Earlier, Sreesanth’s introduction into the attack came later than expected. Irfan Pathan started proceedings for India on day two, but it was Harbhajan who was called upon for breakthroughs.

Kumble chose the two upfront, despite the cloud cover that held promise for Sreesanth and R.P. Singh. Kallis and de Villiers were prickly in their guarded response to Harbhajan. The off-spinner was unlucky when his delivery, that had the spin, length and flight, came off with not enough pace to dislodge the bails.

The new ball was taken after 81.2 overs. R.P. Singh missed an easy run-out when de Villiers was on 90, which carried the character of India’s shambolic fielding.Pathan’s bowling was ordinary. Not once did he threaten. The release was done with minimal use of the wrists, giving the batsman enough time to let it go. The pace was harmless.

Kumble strikes

Kumble’s efforts bore fruit later in the day, when Mark Boucher was beaten for speed and left stranded on the backfoot. Billy Doctrove was convinced of its direction.

Morne Morkel’s discomfort in facing Harbhajan ended when he offered poor defence to deal with the off-spinner.

The pad was found and his stay ended leg-before.

Paul Harris joined de Villiers for some breezy hitting, before rain intervened.

The Indian fielding reached a new low on Friday, with misfields and overthrows a common feature.

The basics of fielding were ignored, including sufficient back-up for throws.

The rain reduced the show of ineptitude by a good 12 overs.

Play will commence half an hour early on Saturday, but it will be the dampness on the wicket that the Indians will be concerned with.

SCOREBOARD

 India — 1st innings: 76.

South Africa — 1st innings: G. Smith lbw b Sreesanth 34, N. McKenzie c Dravid b Harbhajan 42, H. Amla c Jaffer b Harbhajan 16, J. Kallis b Sreesanth 132, A. Prince lbw b Harbhajan 2, A.B. de Villiers (batting) 217, M. Boucher lbw b Kumble 21, M. Morkel lbw b Harbhajan 1, P. Harris (batting) 9, Extras (b-2, lb-14, w-4): 20; Total (for seven wkts. in 141.2 overs): 494.

Fall of wickets: 1-78 (Smith), 2-100 (McKenzie), 3-101 (Amla), 4-117 (Prince), 5-373 (Kallis), 6-439 (Boucher), 7-452 (Morkel).

India bowling: Sreesanth 23-4-87-2, R.P. Singh 21-2-81-0, Pathan 21.2-3-85-0, Harbhajan 40-5-135-4, Kumble 33-2-78-1, Ganguly 3-0-12-0.

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