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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Sep 2014

Cricket News

Sreesanth's plunder fails to halt Kallis march
Subhash Rajta, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, January 03, 2011
First Published: 16:15 IST(3/1/2011)
Last Updated: 09:39 IST(4/1/2011)

It's difficult to understand S. Sreesanth. At times, he leaves you tearing your hair in frustration with his waywardness, and at times he's so good you are left admiring his talent and effort.

On Monday, however, he was at his best. The temperamental pacer, who thanked Graeme Smith on Sunday for waking him up, made the ball dance to his tune with such dexterity even his sternest critic would have stood up and applauded.

Like what he did in Durban, he again bowled some unplayable deliveries to push South Africa on the backfoot. Not only did he swing the ball dangerously, but also got it to dart around off the wicket to leave the batsmen clueless. Ashwell Prince, his first victim in the morning, was left stunned when the ball jagged into his stumps from nowhere.

Mark Boucher too had little clue about the delivery that kissed his bat before landing safely in MS Dhoni's gloves. He then dismissed Morne Morkel to get a well-deserved five-wicket innings haul, his second against the Proteas.

South Africa still managed to reach 362 before being dismissed after lunch thanks to a magnificent Jacques Kallis, who struck 161 before being the last man out.

Indian batsmen then propelled the team into a comfort zone by the end of the day's play. India were 142 for 2, with Sachin Tendulkar (49no) and Gautam Gambhir (65no) holding the fort.

The start, however, was disheartening. Having restricted South Africa to a reasonable total, India would have been hoping for a solid start from Virender Sehwag.

The opener, however, disappointed yet again, as Steyn had him caught by Smith at covers for just 13.

It's of course futile to question the approach and method of someone as successful as Sehwag in his methods, but it's also a fact that he hasn't had a very good run in South Africa - neither in the last tour, nor this time around. Maybe, it's time to show a bit of patience against the new ball in these particular conditions before resorting to normal modes of aggressive stroke play.

Gautam Gambhir, on the other hand, would have wanted to slip in a huge 'thank you' note into the South African dressing room. He looked a bit scratchy, and was dropped twice during his knock.

To Gambhir's credit, however, the left-hander looked determined to make the most of it, with Sachin Tendulkar, on the other end, building up another flawless knock.

The fact that wicket has eased out a lot and the South African bowlers aren't looking as dangerous as they had normally do augurs well for India, who can enjoy the best phase for batting in the game.

In between Sreesanth's magic spell and Indian batsmen's reasonable response, there was another master class from Kallis.  His 39th century put him alongside Ricky Ponting as the joint second highest century-makers, only behind Tendulkar.

The knock should rank very high amongst his personal best given the conditions it came in. The wicket was really tough to bat on Saturday, with the frequent interruptions by rain and bad light making it tougher for batsmen to concentrate. On Sunday, he handled the fiery Sreesanth well and, while others fell without much resistance, he put together vital partnerships to take South Africa to a good total.


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