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Kallis ton drives South Africa to point of strength
by Jinu Sabastian


Ground:Centurion Park, Centurion
Scorecard:South Africa v England
Player:GP Swann, JH Kallis, JP Duminy
Event:England in South Africa 2009/10

DateLine: 16th December 2009

 

Though the South African run rate failed to touch the now standard three run mark the day was not without a dull moment. Strauss believing that his bowlers had the fire power to disturb the South African batting line up inserted his opposition in but that decision back fired to some extent. The pitch eased out considerably as time passed and with the malady of bowling short the English bowlers wasted their opportunity. Only Graeme Swann looked threatening to some extent and his battle with Kallis was something to savour. Kallis notched up his 32nd century and it was a flawless display of perfect Test match batting.

 

On a track that was tinged with patches of live grass Andrew Strauss did not think twice as he elected to field first and his decision was vindicated when Broad struck early though it was due to poor batting. In the second over of the day Graeme Smith (0) tried to tickle a leg side delivery from Broad down to fine leg but could only succeed in tickling down to an alert Matt Prior who dived to his right to pluck a brilliant one-handed catch. The bizarre penchant of bowling short that was evident during the victorious Ashes 2009 returned as Broad and Anderson continued to dish out short-pitched deliveries and watched Prince and Amla see it pass by harmlessly. The strategy changed when Onions got the ball in his hands as he preferred the fuller length to cause some amount of discomfort to the duo. The hardworking Onions finally got his reward for his persistence when Amla (19) was forced to drive at a fuller length and edge low to Collingwood at third slip who was alert to snaffle the offering.

 

Ashwell Prince did have some nervy moments and had some let-offs. First, on 15, when the TV umpire correctly overturned an lbw appeal from Onions that was going over the top of off, and then on 21, Alastair Cook at square leg couldn't latch onto an airy clip by the left-hander. But after break Swann ended Prince's vigil when a sharp spinning off break got the edge of the southpaw's bat and Collingwood at slip did not make any mistake. That dismissal sort of shook up Kallis who began to open up all of a sudden. Kallis played an imperious cover drive of Broad and the turned his attention to Swann as he walloped the off spinner for a huge six and then thrashed the bowler through square-leg for another boundary. Swann to his credit did not lose his nerve as he still had the heart to toss the ball up teasing Kallis.

 

de Villiers did not lose much time to stamp his presence on the match as he unfurled a majestic cover drive and then whipped deliciously through mid wicket of Swann who was visibly enjoying the contest. Swann continued to tease and tempt the two right-handers with some flighted deliveries but the duo at the crease showed that they were mentally more prepared to wait for bad balls. Anderson continued to err by bowling short while Broad was still unable to find his radar right as England struggled for inspiration, and they compounded their frustration by squandering both of their reviews - first when James Anderson trapped Kallis leg before but had an healthy inside-edge, and then when Swann and Prior were convinced that de Villiers had under-edged an attempted slog-sweep. With no Hot-Spot available to the third umpire, however, that decision was never likely to be overturned.

 

Once again England needed Swann's magic ball to terminate the 66 run partnership between the two as de Villiers (32) was caught at short-leg just three balls before tea. Just when the English team thought that they got back into the match Duminy combined with Kallis to frustrate the English bowlers. The English bowlers used the short ball strategy that was used by the Australian bowlers earlier in the year against Duminy but the difference was the execution. While Australian bowlers lead by Mitchell Johnson were right on target the English bowlers were wayward allowing Duminy to sway out of harm's way.

 

The pair settled in quickly and began to reel of boundaries at every possible occasion to put the off colour English bowlers under immense pressure. Strauss chopped and changed his bowlers constantly hoping against hope that one of them would get him the break through but nothing happened. Strauss took the new ball immediately as soon as it was available but his bowlers wasted it by spraying it around. Kallis got his 32nd Test century with an out of control hook which just evaded Onions at fine leg. His century took 177 balls which included 13 hits to the fence with one over the boundary ropes. Duminy was smart enough to play the supporting role to his senior partner as the pair added 103 runs in 35.3 overs to lead South Africa to 262 for 4.


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