The final day of the deciding Newlands Test is minutes from starting and even though South Africa appear to have batted themselves into an impregnable position there is still plenty to interest any fan of the game.
Broadly speaking, it has been a contest that has showcased the very best of Test cricket while also giving the cream of both teams an opportunity to remind all of us why they are labelled World Class.
With the willow Kallis and Tendulkar have starred in varying conditions under duress. To say their contributions have been monumental is a gross understatement.
With the nut Steyn has been at his very, very best while Harbhajan confounded his critics with his seven wickets in South Africa’s second dig.
As we start Day 5 all three results are still possible. India need 340 in 90 overs. South Africa require 10 wickets. I’d say a draw is most likely but there will be twists and turns and excellent cricket to keep spectators on the edge throughout.
Apologies for the brevity, it’s been a busy, hot and disappointing day. I encourage everyone to use the comments section to debate the match and share the experience. I’ll be around to add my two bobs worth and I look forward to sharing the match with all the good folk that visit 99.94.
DRINKS (For me not the players)
Gambhir 24 Dravid 6
Like two prizefighters the opening pairs from both teams spent the first half hour sizing each other up waiting to see who would blink first.
Morkel was extracting unnerving and dangerous bounce from the deck but as the roller began to wear off the two paced nature of the pitch became apparent.
Ghambir, nursing an injured elbow from the first dig received a corker from Morkel first up and unbelievably was struck near the elbow again. After some treatment from the icepack and magic spray he continued to bravely get behind the ball and it appears that his injury isn’t hampering him too much.
Sehwag (11 from 44), who took most of Steyn’s opening spell, curtailed his natural aggression but eventually fell defending a shortish ball from Morkel to a regulation catch to Smith at first slip with the score on 27.
Dravid, possibly playing for his career, look as solid as ever but he was troubled by the uneven bounce in both Tsotsobe and Harris’ overs before my drinks break.
It’s going to be a hard slog for both teams but with the pitch deteriorating and bouncy South Africa look, at this stage at least, unlikely to lose.
For those looking for a feed of the match I’m reliably informed that you can find one by Googling hitcric.info or cricvid.com, however, they are burdened with layers of advertising. Use at your own risk!
LUNCH 53/1 (28)
Gambhir 32 Dravid 8
Only two results likely now with India still needing 287 from 62 overs.
It would appear that they are content with draw.
Still plenty of cricket left but Smith’s decision to not even consider a declaration yesterday afternoon may be a blessing for India.
The most dangerous bowler by a distance has been Morkel and South Africa will need him to fire after lunch if they are to have any chance of a win.
TEA 114/2 (56)
Gambhir 62 Tendulkar 7
In a session that began with Graeme Smith causing the batsmen trouble with his part-time tweakers India dug in further scoring 46 in the first hour without giving a chance.
While Gambhir tried to rotate the strike and put the very few bad balls away Dravid hung on like a limpet and his ultra-defensive approach gave Smith the opportunity to have six men surrounding the bat.
Dravid never looked completely comfortable and when he fell for 31 (112 balls) to a sharp Prince catch at third slip from the impressive Tsotsobe India found themselves at 106/2 still 234 in arrears with 41 overs to play.
Harris, under extreme pressure for his place now that Imran Tahir is available, was most unfortunate having a plum LBW refused and a sharp catch dropped by de Villiers at silly point.
After Dravid fell and with Sachin at the crease the match came alive for several overs. All of a sudden the pitch was spitting and Gambhir lost concentration for a short period. He was dropped by de Villiers at silly point and was also fortunate when misjudging a ball to leg that just fell in front of Peterson at short forward square leg.
India have no chance of a win and you’d think that 8 wickets is too many to take in one 34 over session. It will probably be grim stuff, however, Smith will be able attack without consequence, Gambhir could score a match saving century, Steyn and Morkel will have one last crack with a shiny cherry and that should make for an interesting end to what has been a terrific series between the best Test sides on offer at the beginning of 2011.