It all started with Zaheer Khan cleaning up South Africa’s lower order. The experienced seamer hit the right lengths and took three wickets this morning to bundle out the hosts for 244,and return with impressive figures of 4/88. Comeback complete? A definite yes because the 35-year old asked a lot of questions on the second day,and finally got rewards for some consistent seam bowling on the third morning.
The way this surface is behaving now,with the odd one keeping low,India would have been happy with the 36-run lead,but it needed a spirited effort from the Indian openers – who have struggled – to capitalise on the bowlers’ efforts.
That,however,didn’t happen as the left-right combination of Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan were not comfortable against a testing spell of seam bowling. Dale Steyn,Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel were consistently hitting the right areas,and Philander,in particular,was operating in a brilliant channel – just outside off.
He persisted with the line and made life difficult with a just short of a good length mark. Dhawan,who was again in some sort of rush,was not shy to play at away going deliveries. And,Philander exploited this to full effect.
When he pitched one right around his off-stump,and as we would have wanted,Dhawan went hard at the delivery only to edge it to the slips,where Jacques Kallis took a neat catch.
This was Dhawan’s second failure on the trot,and the aggressive southpaw,if he wants to succeed in these conditions,has to curb his natural instinct of going after the bowling. Yes,it is difficult for someone like Dhawan.
It is like asking a thirsty traveler not to have water. But,this is the quality of this game. You have to make minor adjustments to be successful on foreign soil.
More than playing the ball,the art of leaving it comes handy,especially on the Wanderers strip which has a true bounce,at least on the first couple of days. Dhawan should have seen the likes of Kohli and Rahane bat in the first innings. The way they left the ball was a treat to watch. They were very patient in the middle,something Dhawan is has looked far from. In the first innings,he was playing too many shots and in the second he was going very hard at the deliveries.
After the Dhawan high,South Africa crashed to Morkel low as the seamer limped off the field. In an athletic effort to keep the batsman to two,Morkel stuck his foot on the turf and went down in serious pain. The intensity of the pain was evident from the fact that he was running very hard,and the foot sticking in the turf forced his ankle to twist,and twist terribly.
He was escorted by teammates to boundary ropes,where he was taken over by a very worried Allan Donald. This injury will not only have a say on this match,but can well affect the series.