From the publishers of THE HINDU

VOL.34 :: NO.01 :: Jan. 06, 2011

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CRICKET / CENTURION TEST

Host's dominant show

Jacques Kallis scored his first Test double century and his team-mates showed how highly they value their champion all-rounder in the victory celebrations. A positive aspect for India was Sachin Tendulkar's 50th Test century, a quality innings under pressure. S. Ram Mahesh reports.

India's first Test in South Africa, on its 2010-11 tour, was a game of two parts. The first lasted two shortened sessions on a rain-affected day, a day of such deluge that emergency services were pressed into action in the province of Gauteng. The fantastic efficiency of the drainage and the ground-staff at SuperSport Park ensured play, however, and India, caught on a damp wicket, collapsed.

Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn ran amuck, getting the ball to move and bounce at pace to give the Indian batsmen one of their nastiest welcomes on foreign soil. Thereafter the pitch eased, thanks to the sun and the rolling, and although it continued to encourage bowlers if they bowled it in the right areas, the batsmen prospered.

South Africa made capital. Jacques Kallis, sporting a new head of hair, went to his first double-century, while Hashim Amla and A.B. de Villiers also made hundreds. De Villiers' was the innings of the match — it was a breathtaking assault on India's hapless bowlers.

But it was Kallis, who got all the attention, and understandably so. His service to South African cricket has been untiring. His team-mates showed how highly they value their champion all-rounder in their celebrations. De Villiers seemed as if he had made 200 himself, grinning crookedly and embracing Kallis. The dressing-room erupted. Even Kallis showed rare emotion, admitting that he was very close to tears.

“It's nice to tick off that box,” said Kallis, who has been pursuing a double-century for 15 years. “It's something I am really proud of. I realised how much it meant to myself and my team-mates and all the supporters. I've had unbelievable well wishes. The ovation that I got, I had to breathe not to let the tears start flowing. It really meant a lot to me. It's something I will remember for the rest of my life.”

Kallis also paid tribute to de Villiers, calling the innings one of the best he had seen. “He took the pressure right off me, and just allowed me to knock it around. It was an honour to stand at the other side. I'm so pleased to see how far he has come, he really has that consistency now,” he said.

Kallis also displayed an unsuspected sense of humour when asked about his hair. “Just take some beer and manure and rub it on your forehead,” he said.

Amla went under the radar, but he showed again that he likes India's bowling — after making 490 in two Tests in India earlier this year, he helped himself to 140 at Centurion. That's 630 runs in four innings! India's bowlers will by now be sick at the sight of him.

So quickly had South Africa bowled India out and then made runs that it had enough time to dismiss the touring side a second time. Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag got India off to a good start — when these two get going, the dressing room relaxes. It was just what India needed after the horrors of the first innings.

Sachin Tendulkar, after his sparkling cameo in the first innings, scored his 50th Test century, a quality innings under pressure. “It was extremely important after what happened in the first innings to come back and send a strong message,” said the great man. He was helped a great deal by M. S. Dhoni, who played one of his best Test innings, full of bold, attacking strokes.

But Steyn returned in a hostile spell late on the fourth day to snuff out any chances India might have harboured of saving the Test. In the end, it was an achievement to take the Test into its fifth day (the weather played a part).

“It was a pretty dominant performance,” said South African captain Graeme Smith. “We controlled the game throughout the four days. We were ahead of the game the whole time, we played with good pace which gave us a lot of time to bowl India out.”

India captain M. S. Dhoni said the toss had played a role, but conceded India had been outplayed in all departments. “They bowled well after winning the toss. They got us out and got a good wicket to bat on. The openers got them off to a good start and the middle-order capitalised. Our bowling was a concern. But there were also some positives in our second-innings batting.”

THE SCORES

First Test, Centurion, December 16-20, 2010. South Africa won by an innings and 25 runs.

India — 1st innings: G. Gambhir c Harris b Morkel 5; V. Sehwag c Amla b Steyn 0; R. Dravid lbw b Morkel 14; S. Tendulkar lbw b Steyn 36; V. V. S. Laxman b Steyn 7; S. Raina c Prince b Kallis 1; M. Dhoni lbw b Morkel 33; Harbhajan Singh (run out) 27; Ishant Sharma c Kallis b Morkel 0; S. Sreesanth c Steyn b Morkel 0; J. Unadkat (not out) 1; Extras (lb-6, w-3, nb-3) 12; Total: 136.

Fall of wickets: 1-1, 2-24, 3-27, 4-66, 5-67, 6-71, 7-110, 8-110, 9-116.

South Africa bowling: Steyn 10-1-34-3; Morkel 12.4-5-20-5; Tsotsobe 9-2-50-0; Kallis 6-1-20-1; Harris 1-0-6-0.

South Africa — 1st innings: G. Smith c Dhoni b Harbhajan 62; A. Petersen c Gambhir b Harbhajan 77; H. Amla c Dhoni b Ishant 140; J. Kallis (not out) 201; A. B. de Villiers c Dhoni b Ishant 129; Extras (b-2, lb-3, w-2, nb-4) 11. Total (for four wkts., decl.) 620.

Fall of wickets: 1-111, 2-166, 3-396, 4-620.

India bowling: Sreesanth 24-1-97-0; Ishant 27.1-2-120-2; Unadkat 26-4-101-0; Harbhajan 36-2-169-2; Raina 7-0-77-0; Tendulkar 10-1-51-0.

India — 2nd innings: G. Gambhir lbw b Steyn 80; V. Sehwag c Smith b Harris 63; R. Dravid c Boucher b Morkel 43; Ishant Sharma c Amla b Steyn 23; S. Tendulkar (not out) 111; V. V. S. Laxman c de Villiers b Tsotsobe 8; S. Raina c Harris b Kallis 5; M. Dhoni c Boucher b Steyn 90; Harbhajan Singh c Kallis b Harris 1; S. Sreesanth c de Villiers b Morkel 3; J. Unadkat c Prince b Steyn 1; Extras (b-13, lb-5, w-8, nb-5) 31. Total: 459.

Fall of wickets: 1-137, 2-170, 3-214, 4-242, 5-256, 6-277, 7-449, 8-450, 9-456.

South Africa bowling: Steyn 30.1-6-105-4; Morkel 31-6-94-2; Tsotsobe 24-3-98-1; Harris 30-5-88-2; Kallis 13-3-56-1.



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