India lost the second test and the series tamely, as the might of South Africa proved too much for them. There were only two match-saving possibilities for India on the final day. One was patience and determination from Indian middle order to thwart the fiery South African attack but that was lost from the first ball in the morning; the other possibility was nature. A forecast 40% chance of rain, later in the day, did not come true. The day began with Dale Steyn getting Kohli’s wicket and 17 balls later he produced a beauty to fox Pujara. At 71/4, almost the entire day remained for India to put up some heroics. But that didn’t happen. Wickets began to fall in a clockwork fashion, with only Ajinkya Rahane providing some resistance from one end. When Rahane was the last batsman out at 223, there was more than enough time for South Africa to score a measly 58 runs for victory and complete the match formalities.
The Durban test, however, will be remembered for Jacques Kallis, one of test match history’s greatest heroes. In his farewell game, Kallis won people’s hearts. It was one of the most satisfactory retirements, any player can ask for. He has been with the no. 1 test-playing nation, which has had an enviable record of losing just a single test since 2006. Scoring 45 test hundreds is no mean achievement. In his last test, he also surpassed Rahul Dravid’s aggregate of 13288 in test matches to finish third behind Sachin Tendulkar (15921) and Ricky Ponting (13378). To score 13289 runs, Kallis played 166 test matches and interestingly his debut test was also at Durban against England 18 years ago in 1995. There are not many modern day cricketers, who can match the class of Jacques Kallis. He has always been a disciplined and solid batsman, who never allowed his mind to stray, when batting. He was also a great bowler, with an ability to surprise the best batsmen with his swinging pace. As a fielder, his reflexes were snake-like and some catches that he took in the slips were breathtakingly unbelievable.
The tone for a South African win was set on the fourth day itself. This penultimate day will be long remembered for some very important events. Most importantly, for an emotion-charged South Africa, it was the great Jacques Kallis, who made it a memorable farewell by ending his test career in great style. He not only scored his 45th century, but in doing, so pushed India into a corner. After he was out, Kallis walked back to the pavilion to a standing ovation, not just from the Sunday crowd at Kingsmead, but from Indian fielders as well. There were touching scenes, as the entire South African team greeted him with hugs outside the ground. Captain Graeme Smith was overcome with emotions and kissed Kallis him on his head.
From India’s point of view, Ravindra Jadeja bowled an incredible 58 over spell; including 25 overs on the trot. Considering that remaining four Indian bowlers accounted for 97 overs between themselves, Jadeja had a marathon fourth day. It was Jadeja, who finally broke the Kallis-Steyn partenship, which had continued from stumps on day 3 and was threatening to assume dangerous proportions. Jadeja was rewarded with the prize wicket of Kallis. Steyn followed soon afterwards, with the score reading 387/7 in 136.1 overs.
Precisely at this point, the tempo of the game was magically transformed by the scintillating batting duo of Robin Peterson and Faf du Plessis. In the next 18 overs, these adventurous souls plundered the bowling and took the score to 497/8 at an amazing rate of more than 7 runs an over. The umpires were frustrated as India chose to continue with a nearly ragged ball until over no. 146. Then the umpires intervened and forced the ball-change, midway through the second session. The new ball brought further flow of runs and some stunning shots from Peterson and controlled aggression from du Plessis. Finally, Peterson holed out, playing an ambitious skier. With his dismissal, the innings folded too, but South Africa had already gone well ahead of India with a 166 run lead. This cavalier batting, which enhanced the South African lead miraculously in no time, became very important in the end.
India needed to bat for about 150 minutes on the fourth day. Steyn bowled with fire and left the openers gaping at times. Despite a spell of 5-4-1-0, he couldn’t get the breakthrough. On the other end, Vernon Philander lured Murali Vijay to fall in a trap in the 6th over of the innings. Later Shikhar Dhawan also perished in the 28th over. Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli took the mantle of saviors from this point forward. The umpires intervened for the second time on the day and allowed only the spinners to bowl, since the light was fading.
On the last day, Kohli and Pujara fell quickly and the remaining Indian batsman couldn’t offer any resistance. South Africa needed just under 12 overs to win and carve out a memorable farewell present for Jacques Kallis.
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