South Africa's JP Duminy is bowled for 5 runs during the final day of the first Test against India at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg. (AP Photo)
The final day of the first Test of the two match series between India and South Africa proved every bit of a potboiler it promised to be, ending in one of the most thrilling draws in recent memory.
Early on, India seemed to have the upper hand. Mohammed Shami struck early, removing overnight batsman and star of Day 4 Alviro Petersen (76). Petersen was done in by the variable bounce on the pitch and ended up playing on to his leg stump. He had been troubled all morning and the patience of the Indian pace duo of Ishant Sharma and Shami did well to keep the pressure on him.
However, seasoned campaigner Jacques Kallis came in to bat and looked composed but fluent from the word go. He scored at a fast pace and infused confidence in Faf du Plessis at the other end.
Kallis ultimately fell to a contentious LBW decision off Zaheer Khan's bowling where there seemed to be a rather thick inside edge. Nevertheless, the wicket brought up Zaheer's tally to 300. Only three Indian bowlers — Anil Kumble, Kapil Dev and Harbhajan Singh — have more wickets than him.
At this point, Faf du Plessis (134), who had been batting overnight, joined AB de Villiers to put up what would be a mammoth 205 for the fifth wicket.
The post-lunch session belonged completely to the two. It was not that the Indians were bowling badly, just that the two very simple divine in their batting.
There was a bit of bad luck too. The pitch misbehaved but balls stopped short of the stumps. Edges flew up, only to fall in no man's land, drop short or sail over the cordon.
By the tea session, dejection had set in. Indian skipper MS Dhoni seemed to be out of ideas and it seemed the hosts would pull off the chase. Both batsmen got to their century and the match seemed all but over.
But then, less than an hour remaining in the game, fortune turned again. De Villiers misjudged an Ishant Sharma deliver and chopped it on to his stumps to depart for 103.
In a jiffy, the mood in the field changed. The drooping shoulders picked up. The extra bit of pace came back on and the ball began to nip around once more, beating the bat by a hair.
The additional confidence came in handy the next over when Shami bowled JP Duminy (5), who also played on to his stumps.
The game had been thrown wide open once more, both teams believing they could carry the day.
Vernon Philander, hero of the first innings, got together with du Plessis and gave a last push for victory. From the way the two were batting, a South African victory seemed more likely.
But then, in yet another twist, Ajinkya Rahane struck the stumps brilliantly for the second time in the match to run du Plessis out.
What followed was a nailbiting last three overs, the first two of which were maidens. In the end, Dale Steyn hit a six in the last ball but the hosts still finished 8 runs shy.
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Live Commentary, South Africa Second innings: