India scores dramatic win over South Africa
India claimed a dramatic win in the dying minutes of the second test against South Africa on Thursday, squaring the series 1-1 and retaining top spot in the test cricket rankings.
India won by an innings and 57 runs, with that big margin disguising the nerve-racking ending to the test as the visitors got within touching distance of forcing a draw, losing the last wicket with only 13 minutes of play remaining.
South Africa's Hashim Amla, named man of the match and man of the series, remained unbeaten on 123. He lost his more accomplished batting partners at regular intervals on the final day, but shared some dogged, time-evaporating stands with the tail enders to push his team toward a draw that would have delivered a series victory and that No.1 spot in the rankings.
Harbhajan Singh (5-59) claimed the final wicket, trapping Morne Morkel lbw, prompting the Eden Gardens crowd to erupt in celebrations.
Last man Morkel had hung on valiantly, facing 60 balls as he and Amla batted for 76 minutes in their brave but ultimately fruitless 10th-wicket stand. South Africa scored 290 in its second innings after 296 in its first, compared to India's 643-6 declared in its sole innings.
After the spontaneous celebrations among the India players ended, many made their way to congratulate a disconsolate Amla, who batted throughout the final day and faced 394 balls in his innings. He finished with an aggregate of 490 runs across three innings in the two tests, only being dismissed once.
South Africa, aided by regular rain intervals on day four as it sought to grind out a draw, resumed the final day at 115-3.
With time at the crease counting for more than runs, South Africa's very patient innings received two setbacks in the opening session, as Ashwell Prince and A.B. de Villiers both fell.
Prince (23) was beaten in the flight by a Singh delivery that dipped, and he ballooned a catch to Ishant Sharma at mid-off.
That was soon followed by the removal of de Villiers, who didn't pick Amit Mishra's googly, played down the wrong line and was out for a clear lbw.
India's victory push gained further momentum in the middle session when Singh's slider pushed Jean-Paul Duminy (6) back on his crease, and he played for the nonexistent spin and was out lbw.
Dale Steyn (1) went in similar fashion, playing and missing at a Singh delivery that rapped him on the pad and was plumb lbw.
At 180-7, South Africa looked like folding, but Wayne Parnell (22) was resolute in his defense, sticking with Amla for 101 minutes. He finally went soon after tea, delivering a catch to Singh at short mid-on off the bowling of Sharma.
Paul Harris (4) took up the role of support act, and held out for 36 minutes before edging a Sharma delivery to substitute fielder Dinesh Karthik at third slip.
That brought to the crease Morkel (12), who batted with such unusual assurance for a No.11 that Amla made little attempt to farm the strike, and the paceman responded well before playing outside the line on the final delivery.
India was without paceman Zaheer Khan on the final day, due to a leg injury suffered on Wednesday.
There was a post-match change in the scoring, with five penalty runs being added to the extras and four runs taken off Amla's total. That came as a result of Virender Sehwag deliberately kicking the ball over the boundary rope to prevent Amla taking a three late in an over and thereby retaining strike for the start of the next.