DURBAN, South Africa, (Reuters) – South Africa, chasing 303 to win the second test and the series against India, slipped to 111 for three when bad light ended play an hour after tea on day three at Kingsmead yesterday.
A fiery spell from Shanthakumaran Sreesanth saw Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla dismissed in the space of three overs either side of tea to put the top-ranked test team in a good position to level the three-match series. Both batsmen played poor strokes to get out.
A few overs after angrily waving his bat at Sreesanth following a heated exchange, Smith tried to pull the fast bowler from outside off stump but hit the ball straight up in the air to be caught for 37 by wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
“Sreesanth had said a few personal comments on the field, which is not great and we cannot condone that sort of thing. For Graeme to react is unusual, but I heard it was personal and I think Sreesanth should cut it out,” South Africa spinner Paul Harris told a news conference.
India batsman Vangipurappu Laxman said the incident was all part of top-class cricket.
“It’s a series between the two top teams, so that sort of thing is bound to happen. It’s not just Sreesanth at Graeme Smith, their bowlers came hard at us,” Laxman said.
Amla edged a flatfooted swish at the same bowler and was caught behind for 16.
Sreesanth took two for 30 in seven overs after struggling in the first innings.
South Africa had begun their run-chase in daring fashion as Smith and Alviro Petersen put on 63 for the first wicket in 12 overs, but Petersen (26) was also out in the third over after tea as he plopped a bat/pad catch into the hands of short-leg off Harbhajan Singh.
Jacques Kallis (12) and AB de Villiers (17) were the batsmen at the crease when play was stopped with the outcome of the match still in the balance.
“We were able to get a 300-lead, which is quite handy. But tomorrow morning’s session is very important. If we can get Jacques Kallis out early, then we can put pressure on the other batsmen,” Laxman said.
India had earlier extended their second innings to 228 all out thanks to Laxman (96) and Zaheer Khan (27), who added 70 for the eighth wicket.
Laxman’s fluent 171-ball masterclass steadied India after three wickets fell early on the third morning. His resistance ended when he was the last batsman out, edging a cut off fast bowler Dale Steyn and being caught behind.
Morne Morkel was South Africa’s most dangerous bowler with three for 47 in 15 overs, but pace spearhead Steyn was inconsistent. Left-arm seamer Lonwabo Tsotsobe claimed a test best three for 43.