Wickets fest!

— India 92-4; lead by 166 after 18 wickets fell on extraordinary day

DURBAN, South Africa, (Reuters) – India ended an  extraordinary second day of the second test against South Africa with a 166-run lead after 18 wickets fell at Kingsmead yesterday.

Vangipurappu Laxman (23 not out) and Cheteshwar Pujara (10  not out) restored stability to India’s second innings to leave the tourists on 92 for four at the close after South Africa claimed four quick victims to have them reeling at 56 for four.
India had earlier been blown away having resumed on 183 for six in their first innings. Dale Steyn took six for 50 as the hosts prised out the top-ranked test team for 205.

However, that small total was still enough for a  first-innings lead as India bundled South Africa out for just 131 to gain an unlikely 74-run advantage, Harbhajan Singh claiming four for 10 and paceman Zaheer Khan three for 36. India’s opener Virender Sehwag began the second innings in his customary daring fashion as he raced to 32 with several swashbuckling strokes but, at 42 for no wicket and with the lead at 116 runs, the introduction of left-arm seamer Lonwabo Tsotsobe momentarily swung the match back in South Africa’s  favour.

India’s Harbhajan Singh celebrates taking the wicket of South Africa’s Dale Steyn during the second day of their second test cricket match at Kingsmead Stadium in Durban yesterday.Credit: Reuters/Rogan Ward

Sehwag lashed out at the rookie bowler and edged a catch to wicketkeeper Mark Boucher, while a hostile lifter from the lanky Morne Morkel accounted for opening partner Murali Vijay, caught  at short-leg for nine.

Tsotsobe then nipped the ball away from Rahul Dravid to find the edge of his bat and have him caught behind for two while Sachin Tendulkar (6) knicked a drive off Steyn which AB de Villiers caught at third slip.

India will have a lot to do on a bowling friendly wicket on day three, but thanks to Harbhajan’s wonderful burst of spin bowling when he tore through South Africa’s middle and lower order with four wickets in just 7.2 overs, the tourists are well  positioned to level the series.

“It’s D-Day to level the series. We can’t be complacent, we’ll have to bat well tomorrow. The first thing is to make sure  we score more than 300, then we will definitely have a very good  chance to win the test,” Harbhajan told a news conference.

DRAMATIC  COLLAPSE
Harbhajan’s introduction in the 24th over on a pitch  seemingly suited for the pace bowlers changed the momentum of the test, though he said afterwards he thought it was a good track for the batsmen.

“There’s a little bounce but not much else. It is a very good pitch and I don’t know how 18 wickets fell today,” Harbhajan said.

The off spinner struck in his second over as South Africa’s top-scorer Hashim Amla (33) tried to sweep but missed and was trapped in front of his stumps.     MThe dismissal started the collapse as South Africa lost their last six wickets for 35 runs in 12.1 overs.
Ashwell Prince was bowled by Zaheer for 13 and then Dravid then snapped up an astonishing catch at slip, his 200th in tests, as Harbhajan ripped the ball on to the edge of Steyn’s bat before Cheteshwar Pujara brilliantly snared Paul Harris at short leg for a duck in the same over.

South Africa lead the three-match series after winning the  first test in Centurion by an innings and 25 runs and batsman AB  de Villiers said he was confident his team would rise to the challenge. “Ideally, we’d like to chase 240 to 260, but I back our batsmen to play well after a very poor performance today. Even if we have to chase 300, we’ll give it a go,” he said.

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