India consumed by Dale Steyn’s fire, follow on in Nagpur Test


Nagpur : India were battling to save the first cricket Test as they followed on after being shot out for 233 in the first innings by South Africa, Dale Steyn taking career-best seven wickets, on the third day here Monday.

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Steyn (7-51) and Morne Morkel (1-58) added a wicket each as the Indians ended the day 66 for the loss of their reliable openers Virender Sehwag, who hit century in the first innings, and Gautam Gambhir, who for a change flopped twice, in their second knock.

Sachin Tendulkar, who made seven in the first innings, was at the crease on 15 and with him is Murali Vijay, 27 off 68 balls, India still needing 259 runs to make South Africa to bat again.

Virender Sehwag, who led India’s brief revival with a brisk 109 before falling to a loose shot, fell to Steyn, while Gautam Gambhir was dismissed by Morne Morkel for a second time in the day.

It all started in the second over of the morning as Gambhir edged a beautiful angling delivery from Morkel to be caught behind by Mark Boucher.

From then on Steyn and Morkel were on fire, extracting bounce and pace from the wicket that started responding to spin. The two pacemen gave an exhibition of fast bowling on the subcontinental tracks.

The tall Morkel worked up ferocious pace, touching 145 kmph consistently. He was accurate hitting the deck on a consistent line and probing around the off-stump. Steyn, at the other end, baffled the batsmen with his stock ball away swingers and bringing the odd one in.

Save the resolute Subramaniam Badrinath, who made a half century on debut and Sehwag’s brilliance, India’s inexperienced middle order had no answer to the South African attack.

Steyn got the better of Vijay, who shouldered arms to an incoming delivery which he thought would leave him. But to his dismay the ball nipped back sharply to disturb the stumps.

Steyn bowled a nagging line to Tendulkar, who played 16 balls for his seven, before edging one behind.

Sehwag and Badrinath did the repair job and were unseparated at lunch. The two continued to build the innings on resumption.

Sehwag played in his inimitable style, timing hi strokes beautifully to reach his 18th Test century.

Badrinath, with loads of first class experience, showed good technique to weather the storm. He played with calm assurance and was never rattled, not even when Steyn exchanged a few words with him.

Just when it seemed the two had pulled India out of trouble, Sehwag threw his wicket away as he went for an expansive shot at a wide delivery off left-hand medium-pacer Wayne Parnell and was caught by JP Duminy in the covers. It ended his 136-run stand with Badrinath. Sehwag struck 15 fours in his 139-ball knock.

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (9) stayed with Badrinath till tea, the best session for India during which they lost the wicket of only Sehwag, adding 102 runs.

But Steyn struck back after tea in a sensational spell of fast bowling to bring an early end to the Indian innings. In 22 balls he took five wickets as India from 221 for four were bowled out for 233. Dhoni was the first to go, caught by Jacques Kallis off a Paul Harris delivery that pitched in the bowler’s rough, spun sharply and bounced awkwardly to brush his glove as he shaped to leave.

Badrinath was touch unlucky as he could not keep his flick down off Steyn and hit straight to short mid wicket. He played 139 balls for his 56 and hit seven well-crafted fours.

After Badrinath’s dismissal, the lower order could not stand to the fury of Steyn.