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First Test ends in dull draw

By Ashish Magotra
Last updated on: November 24, 2004 17:07 IST
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South Africa batted with purpose and determination as the first Test against India, at the Green Park in Kanpur, ended in a dull draw on Wednesday.

Play was called off with ten overs remaining in the day.

South Africa scored 169 for the loss of four wickets in their second innings. Jacques Kallis, 28 off 112 balls, and Boeta Dippenaar, 31 off 80 balls, were unbeaten at stumps.

For India, Murali Karthik and Harbhajan Singh bowled well to claim two wickets each in the second innings.

Earlier in the morning, South Africa wrapped the Indian innings for 466 and took a 44-run lead.

South Africa all-rounder Andrew Hall was adjudged man-of-the-match for his superb 163 in the first innings.

Morning session

The day started badly for India as they lost Rahul Dravid early. He was deceived by an out-swinger from Mahkaya Ntini after adding two runs to his overnight score of 52. (407 for 5)

It was a laboured innings for the India vice-captain; of late he seems to be stuck in the defensive mode. With the right-hander gone, the visitors were into the tail and that always means there is a chance of a collapse. That's exactly what happened.

Dinesh Karthik has shown in the Ranji Trophy that he can bat, but hasn't been able to prove his ability in Test cricket. He shouldered arms to a Shaun Pollock delivery that was heading straight for the off-stump and the umpire had no doubt in sending him back to the pavilion just six balls after Dravid's dismissal. (408 for 6)

Shaun Pollock and Ntinin foxed Anil Kumble, the new man in, in tandem. Pollock bowled a bouncer to Kumble and the batsman defended right in front of his eyes. Kumble was certainly not very comfortable on the front foot thereafter.

Ntini, in the next over, pitched one right up and Kumble (9), rooted to his back foot, fished outside the off-stump to give Thani Tsolekile his second catch of the day. (419 for 7)

Laxman, having seen Dravid and Kumble get out to out-swingers from Ntini, played for one but got a delivery that continued to come in with the natural angle that Ntini gets and was clean bowled for 9. (420 for 8)

India were still 90 runs behind, but Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan employed the long handle to good effect. The duo put on 36 runs with some lusty hitting before Harbhajan gave Robin Peterson his first and only wicket of the match. Dippenaar, at short leg, took the catch to send the right-hander back after he had scored 17. (456 for 9)

Zaheer (30 off 34 balls including three boundaries and a six) added 10 more to the total before he missed the ball completely as he attempted to lift Andrew Hall out of the ground and was clean bowled.

India were all out of 466 and the visitors had a lead of 44 runs.

The South Africans had taken 111 overs to claim their first four wickets; the next four took only six.

South Africa second innings

Graeme Smith and Hall safely negotiated the four overs to the break. The duo scored 18 runs in the short session but the South Africa skipper was lucky to survive a couple of huge leg-before appeals from Kumble.

At lunch, South Africa were 18 for no loss after four overs.

Post-lunch session

One would have expected the South Africans to attack in this session. Victory was nowhere in sight, the pressure was off and the visitors could look forward to playing some shots. But the first ten overs of the session yielded only 27 runs.

Kumble, who opened the attack with Zaheer, looked ineffective with the new ball. There were a few huge appeals for leg-before wicket, but other than that nothing else happened. It called for a change in the bowling attack.

In the 16th over, Harbhajan was introduced into the attack. India sorely missed a second seamer. When the South Africans bowled they used reverse swing effectively, and had Irfan Pathan been around he would have been a handful to handle.

The South Africans found it difficult to read Harbhajan's variation. Instead of resorting to the huge off-spinners, he bowled the over-spinner with regularity.

He got his reward -- the wicket of first innings centurion Andrew Hall -- for his persistence. Hall misread the over-spinner and Karthik, behind the stumps, took a good catch. (67 for 1)

Things continued in the same vein before Murali Karthik was introduced into the attack in the 27th over. The bowling change worked. Van Jaarsveld (13) was beaten was a flighted delivery on the leg stump. He should have been playing on the front foot but made the wrong decision and was trapped leg-before. (100 for 2)

Jacques Kallis, who is playing only as a batsman, walked in to join Smith. But four overs later, Smith was gone. The ball flighted on the off and forced Smith to get forward; it kicked and jumped off the pitch into the batsman's glove and looped up to short leg. Simple as that, Kartik had his second wicket of the innings after going wicket-less in the first. (110 for 3)

Smith scored 47 off 100 balls and was unlucky to miss what would have been his first half-century on Indian soil.

Karthik bowled superbly, varying his line and length. More importantly, he gave the ball a lot of air, allowing it to grip on the fifth day pitch.

An early wicket always seems to inspire Harbhajan. Soon enough, the visitors lost another wicket. This time it was Jacques Rudolph, who had got a duck in the first innings. He had joined Kallis at the wicket.

Rudolph did not trouble the scorers much and was gone for 3, with Harbhajan doing the damage again. (115 for 4)

Kallis (9) and Boeta Dippenaar (3) played out the remaining overs safely as South Africa went to tea at 121 for 4, a lead of 165 runs, with six wickets remaining.

Post-tea session

Not much happened in the final session as Kallis and Dippenaar played out the remaining overs. It was slow going but South Africa achieved their end.

Play was called off with ten overs remaining in the day. South Africa scored 169 for the loss of four wickets.

One abiding memory from this Test will be Sehwag's breathtaking 164 on a wicket that had the rest of the batsmen, barring Gautam Gambhir, struggling to play shots.

When South Africa announced their team for the tour, it was widely thought that given their inexperience in the subcontinent, India would easily win the series. By finishing with a creditable draw they showed they are no pushovers.

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Ashish Magotra