CENTURION: Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis hit unbeaten centuries as South Africa advanced remorselessly into a dominant position on the second day of the first Test against India at SuperSport Park on Friday.
At the end of two days during which India have looked anything but the number one side in Test cricket, second-ranked South Africa had scored 366 for two in their first innings, a lead of 230 after bowling out India for 136.
India were so far behind, veteran batsman Rahul Dravid admitted, that when they batted again they couldn’t afford to think about how many runs they needed or how much time was left in the match.
“We need to keep our heads up and show some fighting spirit,” he said.
Amla was on 116 while Kallis made 102 not out. For both centurions it was the continuation of a year of high scoring during which they have both scored more than 1000 runs in Tests. It was Amla’s fifth century of the year – four of them against India – and the sixth by Kallis.
It took Kallis’ career total to 38 Test centuries, exceeded only by India’s Sachin Tendulkar (49) and Ricky Ponting of Australia (39).
He reached the mark off 130 balls, the fastest Test hundred of his career in terms of balls faced.
In contrast to the first day, when South Africa’s fast bowlers ripped through the Indian batting on a green, damp pitch, the batsmen were in charge on a hot, sunny day.
“We saw the pitch got a lot better today,” said Dravid, who shrugged off the change in conditions as something that was not unusual in cricket.
“You know the wicket can get better on days two and three and we didn’t bat well enough on the first day to take advantage,” he said.
South African captain Graeme Smith (62) and Alviro Petersen (77) laid the foundation for South Africa with an opening partnership of 111.
It was tricky going early on as Indian new ball pair Sree Sreesanth and Ishant Sharma gained some assistance from the pitch.
But the Indians wilted as the batsmen played themselves in and the sun blazed down.
India were reduced to ultra-defensive tactics after Amla and Kallis made a stroke-filled start to a partnership which was eventually worth an unbeaten 200.
Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, India’s only successful bowler with two for 107, had up to five fielders on the boundary. When Sharma took the second new ball, with South Africa already 200 ahead, he had three men on the fence.
While it may have stemmed the flow of boundaries, Amla and Kallis were able to keep the score ticking along by playing into the many gaps in the field for ones and twos.
It took South African fast bowler Morne Morkel just three balls to wrap up India’s first innings at the start of the day.
Morkel trapped Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni leg before wicket for 33 as India failed to add to their overnight total of 136 for nine. Morkel had Test-best figures of five for 20.
Although the pitch did not offer the swing and seam movement of the first day, Smith said he was looking forward to setting his fast bowlers loose again after building a substantial lead.
“The pitch is hardening up,” he said. “And you could see the new ball was carrying more than it did on the first day.”