Short of a front-line bowler and staring defeat in the face, SA has salvaged a thrilling draw on the fifth day in the first Test against India.
Chasing a world-record 458 to win, South Africa ended just eight runs short, on 450 for seven, to achieve the third-highest fourth innings total in Test cricket. Requiring 320 to win on the final day, with eight wickets remaining, Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers took South Africa perilously close to what would have been a memorable victory.
The pair were the chief protagonists as they worked their way to a record fifth-wicket partnership of 205 in the fourth innings. It took a period of resolute defence from the batsmen to wear down the new ball, which was taken just four overs into the afternoon session. The pair complemented each other to perfection, with De Villiers playing the aggressor and bringing up his century off 168 balls late in the day shortly after Du Plessis reach his milestone 100 off 252 balls.
De Villiers was eventually out for 103, with the Proteas needing just 56 to win, chopping on to an Ishant Sharma delivery. JP Duminy (9) made a brief appearance, playing on to Mohammed Shami and then Du Plessis, after six-and-a-half hours at the crease, was run out by Ajinkya Rahane for 134. South Africa, on 442 for seven, were just 16 runs short of victory, but some clever bowling tactics left Vernon Philander, 25 not out, and Dale Steyn, unbeaten on 6, unable to finish it off.
Pick of the bowlers for India was Shami returning figures of 3/107. Earlier, having looked composed and playing a patient innings the previous day, Alviro Petersen looked scratchy and out of sorts when he resumed his innings on 76. He was almost out off the first delivery of the day, slashing hard at a ball wide enough to leave from Shami. After facing a further thirteen balls without scoring, Petersen's innings came to an end when he played on to Shami.
The wicket brought Jacques Kallis to the middle and he survived an lbw shout off his first ball, avoiding a pair. Shami bowled the ball full and Kallis played and missed, but the delivery had pitched just outside leg and the umpire gave it not out. Kallis looked to be back to his imperious best, scoring at nearly a run-a-ball, striking six fours for his 34 until he was adjudged lbw to Zaheer Khan handing the Indian bowler his 300th Test wicket. – Sapa