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Pace-struck India hit by Kallis, Amla

South Africa were comfortably placed at 366 for two in their first innings in reply to India's paltry 136 at the end of second day's play in the first cricket Test today. Scoreboard | India's lowest vs SA

cricket Updated: Dec 18, 2010 03:10 IST

Centurion woke up to a sunny morning after quite a while. The bright morning brought smile to every face save the Indian team.

The gloom in the Indian camp only deepened as the day wore on. And by the end of the day's play, there was nothing but complete despair with South Africa taking a vice-like grip on the match.

India had a chance, however slim, to avoid getting into a situation they are in now -- they are trailing by 230 runs with South Africa going strong at 366 for 2, but they didn't take it.

With the wicket still being helpful - it couldn't have flattened out completely as soon as the South Africans stepped out to bat after M.S. Dhoni was dismissed in the very first over of the morning.

India bowlers needed to bowl as well as Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel did on the previous afternoon to keep themselves in the game.

That they couldn't bowl half as well has put India on the brink, after being dismissed for their overnight score of 136.

Jacques Kallis struck his 38th Test hundred to be unbeaten on 116 and Hashim Alma was 116 not out, as the two sucked the fight out of the Indian bowlers with an unbeaten 200-run third wicket partnership.

Watching them whacked all around Centurion Park by the South African batsmen with utmost ease, one would have struggled to believe whether it was the same wicket where Steyn and Morkel had brought Indian batsmen down to their knees.

To begin with, they lacked the pace and bounce generated by their South African counterparts.

They also didn't appear to get enough movement in the air or off the wicket to cause any discomfort to the South African openers.

"What differentiates the two bowling attacks is their pace. While Steyn and Morkel bowled close to 150 k/h, the Indian bowlers aren't going beyond 135. Besides, they don't have muscles to hit the deck hard and extract bounce," said former South African pacer Fanie de Villiers.

Besides allowing South Africa to move into driver's seat, the failure of the Indian attack proved two things:

First, how crucial is Zaheer Khan's presence to this Indian attack; second, the Indian downfall wasn't just because of the 'lost toss' and 'damp wicket'. "The scorecard might suggest it was all easy out there for us. There indeed was some juice in the wicket, but we bent our backs and put the balls in the right areas to get the result," said Morne Morkel, who finished with five wickets.

And that's exactly what the Indian bowlers failed to do.

For South Africa, it was another perfect day out. All top four batsmen scored in excess of 50, with Jacques Kallis and Hashim Amla going on to make impressive unbeaten centuries.

Once Graeme Smith and Alviro Petersen gave them a 111-run stand for the first wicket, Kallis and Amla happily grinded the Indian attack to dust with an unbeaten 200-run stand.

Given how the day has panned out, India will need to put in a massive effort to save the match from here.

First Published: Dec 17, 2010 15:30 IST