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Steyn special makes it South Africa’s day

Smith, Petersen put on unbroken stand of 82 after pacer takes 6 for 100 in India’s 334 all out

Steyn special makes it South Africa’s day - Cricket News
Dale Steyn of South Africa in action.
A match that was disrupted first by bad light and then by rain and was threatening to meander, was caught by the scruff of the neck and brought back to life by an inspired spell from Dale Steyn. It took a massive effort on a sluggish pitch, but Steyn’s 6 for 100 ensured that the second India-South Africa Test at Kingsmead in Durban was alive as India was bowled out for 334. In reply, South Africa began strongly, reaching 82 without losing a wicket by the end of the second day’s play on Friday (December 27).
When the whole of the morning session on the second day was lost, on top of the 29 overs that went abegging on the first day, there was every chance that India would bat just long enough to ensure that there was no chance of an outright result. But Steyn, who had gone 69.2 overs without taking a wicket, muscled six sticks in 10.3 overs, and ensured that India had to recalibrate all its plans.
Cheteshwar Pujara was Steyn’s first victim, a perfectly pitched ball outside the off moving away just enough to secure the outside edge and send India’s No. 3 back for 70 after a 157-run second-wicket stand.
M Vijay, who had batted beautifully through the tough periods early on in the innings, fell soon after. Steyn had pushed Vijay onto the back foot with a series of well-directed short deliveries and a ball that was aimed at the body could only be fended to the ‘keeper. Vijay’s 97 had come from more than five hours of hard graft. In the course of his innings Vijay had played some sumptuous shots, not least when the ball was full or on his pads, driving down the ground or whipping through midwicket with consummate ease.
Steyn had his third wicket in 15 balls when Rohit Sharma offered no stroke to the first delivery he faced. Pitched on the off stump and tailing back in through reverse swing, the ball knocked the middle stump out of the ground as a sheepish Rohit made the long walk back to the pavilion after a first-ball duck.
Virat Kohli started off confidently, playing a crisp pull shot to the short ball, and motored to 46 in quick time, making batting look ridiculously easy. But he glanced a short ball from Morne Morkel fine, but got too little willow on leather, allowing AB de Villiers to take an excellent diving catch behind the stumps.
While the wickets fell at one end, Ajinkya Rahane held up South Africa at the other. Rahane stood his ground admirably, twice being struck flush on the helmet by Steyn bouncers. He did not flinch, and got well behind the line of the ball even when it was hurled at express pace, and brought up his first Test half-century.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who looked to be positive even as Rahane lent backbone to the innings, became Steyn’s first victim in a second fiery spell that yielded three wickets in quick time. Dhoni nicked to slip on 24, Zaheer Khan was athletically caught by a leaping de Villiers and Ishant Sharma provided a more straightforward offering to the man behind the stumps. Steyn’s 22nd five-for put him in elite company, with Waqar Younis, Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh and Malcolm Marshall all having achieved the feat the same number of times.
In the midst of the Steyn mayhem Ravindra Jadeja, who came into the eleven in place of R Ashwin, poked at JP Duminy to give Jacques Kallis his 200th catch in Test cricket. India had lost its last five wickets for only 14 runs, and Rahane, high and dry on an unbeaten 51, was left ruing the fact that he turned the strike over to the tail.
De Villiers, who did admirably well with the big gloves, ended with five catches in the innings.
Smith and Alviro Petersen then ground home the advantage, picking off quick runs against India’s opening bowlers before Ishant settled down and hit the right length. Going around the stumps to Smith with a packed leg-side field, Ishant extracted exaggerated movement off the seam as the shadows lengthened.
At 6.31pm, though, a long day drew to a close as Smith and Petersen walked off to a happy dressing-room with the score on 82 for no loss, having safely negotiated a tricky passage of play against Jadeja’s left-arm spin. Much work remains, but a solid base had been built.

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