India on course for famous win against South Africa

Johannesburg, Dec 21 : India will fancy themselves winning the first Test against South Africa, who were 138 for two on the penultimate day Saturday while chasing a record 458 run target at the Wanderers here.

South Africa began the steep chase well courtesy a 108-run stand between Graeme Smith (44) and Alviro Petersen (75 not out) before the fall of their captain and Hashim Amla (4) put them on the backfoot. They reached 138 for two at close of play with Petersen and Faf du Plessis in the middle.

India added 137 runs to their overnight 284 for two, piling up 421 all out to take their lead to 457. Cheteshwar Pujara (153) and Virat Kohli (96) were the main contributors to the imposing total.

It should be a fascinating day five with all three results possible and India looking on course for their third Test win on South African soil.

India were rather lucky to have a couple of the opposition batsmen back in the hut.

Smith was pacing his innings brilliantly until he ran himself out attempting a cheeky single. Ajinkya Rahane made the southpaw pay for his error of judgement with a direct hit.

Amla got out in bizarre fashion, leaving a short pitched ball which kept low enough to rattle his stumps, leaving the dejected batsman down on the knees.

Ishant Sharma and Zaheer Khan will have to fire in tandem if India are to register a famous win.

Earlier, India lost four wickets but scored at a brisk rate to reach 358 for six by lunch.

Though all the four wickets, including that of Kohli and Pujara, fell before lunch but by then India had opened up an overall lead of 394 runs. Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (29) and Zaheer Khan (29 not out) also came up with valuable contributions.

Both Pujara and Kohli were watchful at the start of day four as Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander (3/68) bowled a probing line and length.

But it was double strikes from the veteran all-rounder Jacques Kallis (3/68) that gave India a minor setback.

For Pujara, it was a lapse in concentration that cost him his wicket. Soon after he crossed 150, Pujara went for a cut but edged it to AB de Villiers.

Kohli perished also trying to cut, four short of what would have his second successive hundred in the match. The stylish batsman fell short from joining the likes of Vijay Hazare, Sunil Gavaskar and Rahul Dravid as the only Indians to make a century in each innings of a Test.

--IANS (Posted on 21-12-2013)

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