Stumps on Day 3
South Africa are under pressure at 52 for 2 in 16 overs by the close of play on Day 3 in their second innings. Harbhajan Singh struck twice in the last 10 minutes of play to tilt the match in India's favour. The hosts were off to a splendid start knocking off 50 on the board for no loss and it was only in the 14th over that India found its much needed opening when Graeme Smith went back for a flick but only to miss a top spinner from Harbhajan Singh infront of the stumps. Smith was given out lbw after looking so good on 29. In the final over of the day's play, Harbhajan got the wicket of night watchman Paul Harris who offered no shot on the backfoot and padded up to what turned out to be a big turning off break from outside off which disturbed the top surface of the pitch and kept low. It was an easy lbw decision for Umpire Simon Taufel which sent back Harris for a duck.
Earlier in the session, SA bowled out India for 362 allowing them to a tiny lead of 2 runs. The start of the session saw Harbhajan Singh top edging his hook shot off Steyn to Duminy at square fine leg to end his fighting knock of 40 from 67 balls (with 3 fours and 2 sixes. Harbhajan put up a crucial stand of 76 runs with Tendulkar who was next to depart after getting bowled off the gate by a Morne Morkel indipper. Tendulkar was looking to steer the ball to thirdman but was done in by the sharp inward movement with bounce. He finished with a superb 146 (from 314 balls with 17 fours and 2 sixes) to do what exactly Kallis did for SA in their first innings. Ishant Sharma fell quickly after this fending off Steyn to the keeper down the legside to give a five-wicket haul for the express bowler.
India finished up at 364 thanks to a cameo of 23 from 22 balls from Zaheer Khan who smacked 2 sixes before getting caught at thirdman off Morkel in the 118th over.
Sachin Tendulkar batted out the entire morning session to help India towards 237 for 4 in 82 overs. By Lunch, Tendulkar has got to a well paced 94* from 208 balls with 12 fours. His overnight partner Gautam Gambhir also batted well but was unlucky to miss out on a century when he nicked a straighter one from Paul Harris on the backfoot to the keeper. Gambhir lasted nearly two hours this morning and got out on 93 (from 22 balls with 13 fours). The southpaw had put up a big partnership of 176 with Tendulkar for the third wicket.
India was cruising along when VVS Laxman had joined Tendulkar and he pushed the score forward with three useful boundary. But Laxman was unlucky to be dismissed after a short stay when he got out just like Jacques Kallis in the previous Test Match which was to be run out at the non-striker's end backing up. It was a smashing uppish drive from Tendulkar in the 80th over which was spilled by Harris but the ball found its way onto the bowling end stumps to cause a disaster for Laxman and India. Once the second new ball was taken as and when it was available, life was once again tough for the Indian batsmen especially Cheteshwar Pujara who had horrid time against the steep rising deliveries from Morkel.
- BV Swagath