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Sight Screen

Monday, November 28, 2005

Overs 31-40

When Jacques Kallis swept Murali Karthik for four in the first ball of the 34th, it was the first time in 109 deliveries the ball had crossed the ropes – and as has become almost inevitable for India in this home series, the tightening of the screws has been primarily the responsibility of Harbhajan Singh – whose first spell of 8-0-21-1 was, on this track, tribute to impeccable control and an ability to constantly keep the batsmen guessing.
This phase saw Kallis reach his 50 (off 95 balls); and his wagon wheel showed one area where Rahul Dravid could perhaps have tightened things even further. Kallis scored 3 to the third man region, 3 in the point-cover arc and 1 to mid off, thanks largely to a field pulled right in to block singles. Against that, he had 25 to backward point-fine leg, and 18 to midwicket (0 to mid on) – two areas where the fielders remained, for some reason, invariably a few paces deeper than, given the Proteas’ lack of momentum, they really needed to be.
Overall, though, it’s been a job superbly done thus far; Viru Sehwag coming in for Bajji in the 35th (and Yuvraj in the 40th, the Indian captain obviously banking not so much on turn, as on keeping the pace of the game down, forcing the SA batsmen to come to the ball) kept the good work going, bowling a very flat, very tight line on off to off and middle.
The only visible plus for SA at this point is that they have wickets in hand, and two game-breakers in Boucher who is now set, and Justin Kemp who is due in next, to try and maximize the slog overs. They need to go at between 80-100 during the last 10 overs, though, to put a competitive total on the board; against that, all the Indians really need to do is keep it tight, and force the Proteas to take increasing risks.
South Africa in this phase moved from 109/3 in 30 to 126/3 in 35, and 155/3 in 40; that is 46 runs in the period which, considering that SA had wickets in hand and needed to get a move on, is another phase you have to give, on points, to the Indian bowlers.

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