CENTURION, South Africa, (Reuters) – India will be batting to save the first Test today after a torrent of runs from Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers on day three put South Africa in a match winning position at Centurion.
India closed on 190-2 yesterday, needing another 294 runs in their second innings to make South Africa bat again after the Proteas had earlier declared on 620 for four.
Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag hit half-centuries for India in the final session, and after they went Rahul Dravid (28 not out) was joined by nightwatchman Ishant Sharma (seven not out). But their hopes appeared doomed after Kallis and de Villers had finished with the Indian bowlers.
Kallis hit 201 not out — his maiden test double ton — and de Villiers contributed 129 — South Africa’s fastest test century — to allow the hosts to declare their first innings with a lead of 484 runs.
Kallis finally put to rest his quest for a maiden test double ton, reaching the landmark in the over before the declaration when he glanced Jaidev Unadkat for four. It was his 15th boundary, to add to five sixes. Kallis batted for six-and-a-half hours and faced 267 balls.
The 35-year-old, who now has 11,650 runs in 242 test innings, had been the only one of the top 15 runscorers in test history not to have scored a double century.
De Villiers’ scintillating 112-ball innings ended four balls later as he edged a big drive off Ishant Sharma to wicketkeeper MS Dhoni to prompt the declaration.
He had plundered his 12th test century off just 75 deliveries as South Africa reached lunch on 591 for three.
The 26-year-old de Villiers, who scored a national record 278 not out in his previous match against Pakistan last month, smashed the previous record for a hundred, of 95 deliveries, shared by Denis Lindsay (v Australia, 1966/67), Jonty Rhodes (v West Indies, 1998/99) and Shaun Pollock (v Sri Lanka, 2000/01).
South Africa had earlier resumed their first innings on 366 for two. Amla, Kallis and de Villiers launched an assault on the lacklustre Indian bowlers, lashing 225 runs in 36 overs in the morning session.
India’s only success came when Amla, who had cruised to 140, edged a terrible delivery, way down the leg-side, from Ishant to Dhoni.
It was Amla’s fourth successive century against India, following on from his tour there in February, where he scored 253 not out in Nagpur and 114 and 123 not out in Kolkata. It equals the world record shared by South African Alan Melville against England (1938/39-1947), West Indian Everton Weekes versus India (1948/49) and Pakistan’s Shoaib Mohammed against New Zealand (1984/85-1990/91).
Amla and Kallis’s partnership of 230 in 238 minutes was their fifth double-century stand in tests, just one behind the world record set by Australians Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer.
Kallis and de Villiers added 224 off 226 balls.
India, needing to bat out more than seven sessions to save the match, made a gutsy start to their innings, with Sehwag reaching 51 not out and Gambhir 33 not out by tea.
The left-handed Gambhir profited from two dropped catches at point by Alviro Petersen on his way to his 14th test fifty.
But Proteas paceman Dale Steyn then came around the wicket and jagged a delivery back into Gambhir’s pads to win an lbw decision with the opener on 80.
Sehwag was on 63, with nine fours and a six off 79 balls, when he skied Paul Harris to deep extra cover for the left-arm spinner’s 100th wicket in his 35th test.
Sharma survived for 23 minutes alongside Dravid before bad light stopped play 18 minutes early.