SA close in on Bangladesh

Jacques Kallis picked up a five-wicket haul to put South Africa on the brink of victory on the third day of the opening Test against Bangladesh in Dhaka on Sunday.

The prolific all-rounder took all his wickets in a single spell of fascinating fast-bowling to help South Africa bowl out the hosts for 182 and restrict their second-innings lead to 204.

The South African batsmen, who made 170 in their first innings, made amends by reaching 178-4 at close and now need just 27 runs to go 1-0 up in the two-Test series.

Ashwell Prince was batting on 24 with three fours alongside AB de Villiers on eight when play was called off due to bad light with eight overs remaining in the day.

Skipper Graeme Smith, who scored his 20th Test fifty off 80 balls, laid the platform for the chase, putting on crucial partnerships with opener Neil McKenzie (26) and Hashim Amla (46).

Smith (62) put on 52 runs with McKenzie and a 73-run stand for the second wicket with Amla before he was deceived by a Mohammad Rafique ball that kept low.

He tried to work the ball through the on side, but it hit him in line with the middle stump and umpire Steve Bucknor had no hesitation in raising his finger.

Bangladesh skipper Mohammad Ashraful praised the South African bowlers for their effort in the morning session, which effectively sealed the fate of the hosts after they had dominated the visitors on the second day.

“They used the old ball very well in the morning—Junaid Siddique and Aftab Ahmed were both dismissed off very good deliveries,” he said.

Ashraful though took heart from the performance of his teammates. “We don’t find ourselves very often in the kind of situations that we were in at various points of time in the match,” he said. “But there is inconsistency in our performance which can be only overcome if we play Tests on a more regular basis.”

Kallis said the key was to bowl in the right areas, as the wicket was keeping low and slow in the morning.
“We knew it was a very crucial session for us. I just tried to bowl in the right areas. It was not easy, though, as there was a bit of reverse swing,” he said.

South Africa set off their chase cautiously, with McKenzie and Smith negotiating the home-team bowlers with considerable restraint. But Bangladesh’s first-innings bowling hero Shahadat Hossain fetched the first breakthrough for his side when he had McKenzie caught by Habibul Bashar at square leg.

Kallis lost his wicket when he pulled one to Mashrafe Mortaza at backward square leg off Hossain for seven.

Prince and De Villiers, top scorer in the first innings with 46, then batted with dogged determination to deny Bangladesh any more success with the ball.

The South Africans owed their happy progress in the match to Kallis (5-30), who picked five of the six wickets to fall on Sunday morning, including that of top-scorer Siddique (64).

Speedster Dale Steyn finished with 4-48 as Bangladesh’s innings folded up at the stroke of lunch.

Bangladesh, who lost all four prior encounters against South Africa by innings margins, have won just one of their 51 Tests—against minnows Zimbabwe.

The second Test begins in Chittagong on February 29.—Sapa-AFP

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