Kallis ton sets up Proteas onslaught
Jacques Kallis became the fourth South African to score a century in his final Test match.
JOHANNESBURG - When Jacques Kallis arrived at the crease at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on Saturday morning the Castle Lager Proteas were trailing India by 221 runs with eight wickets in hand.
Not only had he wrested control for his side with the assistance of AB de Villiers and others who followed him but he had drawn the sting from a wearied Indian attack and laid the platform for the assault that was to follow as Faf du Plessis (43 off 70 balls, 4 fours) and Robbie Peterson (61 off 52 balls, 9 fours and a six) laid about them to add a ground record eighth wicket partnership of 110 in exactly 18 overs.
The upshot was that the Proteas were finally dismissed for exactly 500 for an overall lead of 166. It left India with a tricky 36 overs in fading light during which they scored 68 for the loss of both their opening batsmen to finish the day 98 runs in arrears.
The smart money may be on a draw at this stage but this match has been all about Kallis and it will not be complete without a Proteas victory. He has never attached quite the same importance to innings that did not contribute to a win.
This innings was, of course, an exception. It was his 45th Test match century and his seventh against India.
It means he will finish his Test career with an average of almost 70 against these particular opponents. It was also the first century by a Proteas batsman at Kingsmead for five years which explains why their record at this ground has not been that exciting of late.
He became the fourth South African to score a century in his final Test match but his performance can be regarded as unique in the context of the other three, none of whom knew their careers were definitely over when they went into their final five-day contest.
Barry Richards and Lee Irvine had their careers cut short by isolation while Pieter van der Bijl had his cut short by World War II.
Night watchman Dale Steyn helped him to a third significant partnership in the innings when they added 86 for the sixth wicket. This was an important period of play as Steyn batted for almost the entire morning session (more than two hours).
It wasn't all uneventful toil for India as Ravindra Jadeja claimed two more wickets, including Kallis, to achieve career best figures of 6/138 in 52 overs. He has now taken 33 wickets in only 6 matches, including two five-wicket hauls.
The day also contained two spectacular moments of Protea brilliance. The left-handed Peterson produced a pulverizing switch hit over what would have been a right-hander's deep midwicket boundary for six.
Then his batting partner, Du Plessis, took the catch of the season when he spiralled into the air at shortish midwicket to make an acrobatic one-handed take off Peterson's bowling.
It was small wonder that Du Plessis lay on his back afterwards with the broadest of smiles on his complexion because it was a once in a career moment.
The Proteas will probably need a few more moments of inspirational brilliance to get them across the finishing line.
India's two major batsmen of the series, Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli, currently occupy the crease and the first hour of the final day is going to be critical.