India battling after Kallis farewell century
DURBAN, South Africa (AP) — A farewell century for South Africa from Jacques Kallis and a thumping half-century by tailender Robin Peterson left India battling to save the second test and the series at Kingsmead on Sunday.
Kallis signed off before retiring from tests with 115 and a 45th career century to go third on the list of all-time run-scorers— all at the ground where he made his debut 18 years ago.
“It’s strange walking out to bat knowing that there is no tomorrow and it will be your last opportunity to get a 100 for your country,” the 38-year-old Kallis said.
Seizing the momentum after Kallis departed to be hugged by nearly all his teammates, Peterson hit nine fours and a switch-hit for six in his lively 61 off 52 balls and South Africa was 500 all out in its first innings for a lead off 166.
India defended grimly to battle to 68-2 in its second innings at stumps, 98 behind with Cheteshwar Pujara facing 90 balls for his 32 not out. South Africa backed up its batting with the wickets late in the day of openers Murali Vijay for 6 and Shikhar Dhawan for an 87-ball 19 to a leaping one-handed catch by Faf du Plessis.
“That was a brilliant catch,” India fielding coach Trevor Penney said. “Those sorts of things change games, don’t they? We’re just going to have to really dig deep and fight the (last) day out.”
Du Plessis’ late acrobatic grab threatened to steal the limelight from the retiring Kallis, who completed his century in the morning for an emotional goodbye to the long format for South Africa’s most successful batsman ever. His 115 also moved him ahead of India’s Rahul Dravid in test cricket’s all-time leading run-scorers — by just a single run.
With an expectant crowd, Kallis went to three figures with a nudge to mid-on and celebrated by removing his helmet and lifting both arms in the air as he faced the team dressing room. He was out to spinner Ravindra Jadeja, who had a career-best 6-138 for India.
As Kallis walked off waving his bat to the crowd, members of the South African team came out of the dressing room and down the stairs toward the field to hug him one by one. Captain Graeme Smith kissed the allrounder on the side of the head and then carried Kallis’ bat and gloves into the changing room.
“With 20 runs to go to 100, I think all the boys were playing the innings with him,” Peterson said. “The guys were pretty emotional, especially the guys who have played with him for a long time.”
Kallis’ century also made him the third-highest run-getter in tests behind India’s Sachin Tendulkar and Australia’s Ricky Ponting. He needed exactly 115 in his last test to overtake Dravid.
Peterson shared a stroke-filled 110-run stand with Du Plessis (43) as South Africa scored quickly in an attempt to give itself a chance of a victory with time running out in Kallis’ 166th and final test. Peterson unleashed a flurry of boundaries against the new ball after lunch, and Du Plessis also chipped in with four fours before he was run out for 43 by a direct hit from Rohit Sharma.
South Africa’s bowlers broke through in India’s second innings when Vernon Philander removed first-innings top-scorer Vijay. Du Plessis’ superb catch at short mid-wicket sent Dhawan back less than 10 overs before the close and gave South Africa renewed vigor ahead of the final day of a test that’s been stopped periodically for weather delays.
“I think we’ve lost a lot of time in the game but I think there’s definitely a result deck in there for us,” Peterson said.
Top-ranked South Africa first took charge of the series-decider against No. 2 India with Kallis’ anchoring innings at the same ground in Durban where he started as a 20-year-old prodigy in 1995.
After South Africa slipped to 113-3, he had successive partnerships of 127 with AB de Villiers (74) and 58 with JP Duminy on day three, and a stand of 86 on Sunday with nightwatchman Dale Steyn, who made 44.
Straight after passing Dravid and going to 13,289 career test runs, Kallis attempted a big heave to the legside off Jadeja and top-edged to wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni. He faced 316 balls over six hours and hit 13 fours.
Kallis announced on Christmas Day that it would be his final test, taking many by surprise to end the career of one of cricket’s outstanding allrounders. He will remain available for limited-overs internationals in an attempt at a final swansong at the 2015 World Cup.
Follow Gerald Imray at www.twitter.com/GeraldImrayAP