India, SA settle for a thrilling draw

Faf du Plessis and A B de Villiers negated the advantage that India gathered over the four days with a glorious stand as the remarkable first Test ended in a draw at the Wanderers on Sunday.

Set an improbable target of 458, South Africa, overnight 138 for two, made a brave chase and ended up at 450 for seven on the fifth and final day.

Such a classic finish wouldn’t have been possible without the resilience of Du Plessis (134) and De Villiers (103).

In the morning session, nobody gave South Africa a chance to survive the day against the fired-up Indians and the visitors seemed to press their advantage with the early wickets of Alviro Petersen and Jacques Kallis, though there will be discussions over the dismissal of Kallis as an inside edge was involved in the leg before decision. The wicket gave Zaheer Khan his 300th Test wicket.

But that’s all Indians could manage for the next 62.3 overs as De Villiers and Du Plessis milked 205 runs for the fifth-wicket alliance. It was an incredible effort because the South African duo had to negate a tricky fifth day pitch and the weight of the situation. They did not blink even once.

There were times when the Indian pacers beat them or elicited an edge that narrowly missed the fielders. But the South Africans showed admirable concentration to put behind those awkward moments.

As their partnership grew in proportions, the thought of a South African victory began to spread across the venue.

Crowds began to swell in the stands anticipating something special and they were rewarded with a splendid final-hour drama.

Indians staged a comeback into the match with the quick wickets of De Villiers and Jean Paul Duminy, but Du Plessis ensured that South Africa reach closer to the target, but his run-out with the Proteas needing 16 runs off 19 balls meant that they would be happy with a draw.

It was a just result as neither team deserved to lose this match. South Africa showed why they are the No 1 Test team and a young Indian side revealed they have brighter tomorrows.

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