Proteas ride on Kallis supremacy

India

Jacques Kallis (78 not out from 224 deliveries) looked rock solid as he cautiously went about his business of quietly, and slowly, marching towards a century in his last ever Test match.

Jacques Kallis (78 not out from 224 deliveries) looked rock solid as he cautiously went about his business of quietly, and slowly, marching towards a century in his last ever Test match.

South Africa ended the third day on 299 for five, just 35 runs behind India's 334 all out. As much as Kallis may have held together the middle order and all but guaranteed South Africa a first-innings lead, he will come in for criticism for batting at a strike rate in the low 30s at a time when positive batting was required to try and force a win in a wet weather-affected match.

It is not often that when a bowling side takes five wickets in a day you would say the day was theirs but that was probably the case on the third day at Kingsmead. At the start of the day South Africa would have eyed a handy lead by stumps but three quick strikes early in the day forced the home side to bat at around 2.50 runs per over for the rest of the day.

Ravindra Jadeja (four for 87) brought the breakthrough when Graeme Smith was caught taking the spinner on and it wasn't long before Hashim Amla (three) was clean bowled again by Mohammed Shami. Alviro Petersen (62) was caught edging Jadeja the very next ball and then Kallis and AB de Villiers (74) were forced to consolidate. De Villiers did his best to keep the scoring tempo up but after his dismissal – also a Jadeja edge – Kallis and Duminy (28) went into their shells.

Some brilliant captaincy from Mahendra Singh Dhoni earned his side Duminy's wicket some 25 minutes later than when they went off for bad light in similar weather on the first day. With the knowledge that taking the new ball would result in bad light stopping play soon after tea, Dhoni resolved not to play for a draw and instead to persevere with the old ball and spin from both ends – and with the 14th over after the new ball became available, Jadeja struck for the fourth time of the day when he trapped Duminy lbw plumb in front of middle stump. The Proteas sent in Dale Steyn (zero not out) as a nightwatchman shortly before some drizzle put an end to the day's play.

Jadeja led the Indian attack with great skill and proved an inspired selection for this Test as he conceded only 2.35 runs per over. He was very nearly rewarded with a five-wicket haul as Kallis gave a sharp chance to a sleepy silly mid-off fielder when the master batsman had 74 runs to his name. The ball hit the fielder's shin before he was able to get a hand to it.

Kallis needs 37 runs to go ahead of Rahul Dravid and claim the mantle of third-highest run-scorer in Test history. With rain forecast at times on both of the last two days it is very hard to see how either side will manage to bowl the other out twice, especially as the chance of South Africa batting only once looks increasingly unlikely.

There is, however, a realistic chance that this is Kallis' last ever Test innings and it would be very sad if the Durban faithful did not turn up in their masses on Sunday to bid the legend farewell, and perhaps witness a 45th Test century. Sadly it feels as if the stage is not grand enough to justify the importance of the occasion.

<b>Nick Sadleir at Kingsmead</b>

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