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Series win marks dream send-off for Kallis

Rahane’s fighting 96 stands out amidst second-innings ruin as India suffers ten-wicket defeat, loses series 1-0

Series win marks dream send-off for Kallis - Cricket News
Dale Steyn (R) and Vernon Philander picked up six wickets between them.
On the second day of the second Test between India and South Africa, Jacques Kallis sat his team-mates down in the dressing-room at Kingsmead and told them that he had not come all the way to Durban to finish his career in a tame draw. South Africa responded to the rallying call in style, putting in a big effort to win the Test by ten wickets shortly after tea on the final day to take the series 1-0. 

When South Africa walked out of the dressing room after the winning runs were struck, every member of the set-up, support staff included, sported T-shirts with a photo of Kallis on the front and a simple message on the back: Jacques Kallis – the only player to have scored 10000 runs and taken 200 wickets in Test cricket, December 1995 – December 2013. 

Kallis, who has an aversion to emotional scenes and too much fussing, allowed himself to be carried by Graeme Smith and Morne Morkel as the players set off on a victory lap. Before they had gone 50 yards, Kallis gestured that he preferred to be set down, and just like that he was back down to earth. 

When the final day began, the odds were stacked against India in a manner that had been made light of by the manner in which the young batting line-up had played leading up to the final day. Any other India team, any other top seven, and few would have given it a chance of surviving the final day against this South Africa attack. 

As it turned out, the pessimists were right, as Virat Kohli was sent on his off the first ball of the morning. Dale Steyn, pumped up as ever, got Kohli to push at a ball outside off, and, though the batsman missed, the umpire heard a loud sound as the ball brushed Kohli’s right shoulder on the way to the keeper. Kohli looked in shock as the finger went up, but with the Decision Review System not in play, he had no recourse to a second opinion. 

If Kohli got a decision he did not deserve, Cheteshwar Pujara received a ball that was virtually unplayable. Steyn, who had his tail up, went wide of the crease and delivered at express pace. Pujara got behind the line of the ball, only for it to pitch, straighten and flatten the off stump. With both Kohli and Pujara gone early, there was little hope left among India’s supporters. 

Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane got together and kept South Africa at bay, but with the runs not flowing nearly freely enough, it was only a matter of time before a wicket set India further back. That came when Vernon Philander set Rohit up perfectly, getting deliveries to leave the right-hand batsman one after another before bowling one that came back in. Rohit, fooled into expecting an outswinger, was nailed in front of the stumps. 

Mahendra Singh Dhoni was India’s last beacon of hope, the tail having resolutely failed to wag all series. But Dhoni, once again, just about managed to get his eye in before getting himself out. A ball from Robin Peterson stopped and came on, and Dhoni, committed to the flick, picked out the fielder at midwicket. 

All through the procession at the other end, Rahane stuck to his guns, showing that his defensive technique matched his appetite for the fight. Even when he was peppered with short stuff, Rahane refused to be swayed from his main game. Ravindra Jadeja, however, did not seem to have a clue what his game should be. Jadeja smacked Petersen for a six over mid-on, and when the fielder was pushed back to the fence immediately after, tried to clear long-off, and holed out. 

Zaheer Khan got nicely behind the ball, supporting his senior partner, and spent more than an hour at the crease for three runs, but was played down the wrong line to Peterson and was adjudged lbw. Realising that the end was near, Rahane cut lose, and was especially impressive off the back foot. Using the depth of the crease to great effect Rahane punched in front of square and sliced beyond point. The shot of the day came against Philander, when Rahane gave himself a bit of room and timed the ball magnificently over point for six. But, on 96, and looking to pick up some quick runs, Rahane swung and missed and was cleaned up. India’s innings ended on 223, a lead of only 57 that was never going to be enough. 

In 11.4 overs, Petersen and Smith hunted down the target, giving Kallis the send-off that he dreamt of and so richly deserved.

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