Playing his final Test, Jacques Kallis approached his 45th century as South Africa made their position strong on day three of the second Test, reaching 299 for 5 at stumps, just 35 runs shy of India's first innings total of 334.
Kallis (78*) looked in imperious touch even in the 2nd innings of the Wanderers Test before he got a bad decision. Here too he looked upbeat for a big knock notwithstanding the pressure and nerves of playing what could be his final innings in Test cricket. His 127-run partnership for the fourth wicket with AB de Villiers took South Africa out of the mire as they lost three wickets within ten runs in the first session of play on Saturday.
Before the bad light and slight drizzle stopped play, Kallis was looking solid to score another three-figure mark with nightwatchman Dale Steyn (0*) giving him the company.
India would be disappointed the way they bowled in the last session on Friday, with South Africa racing away to 82 for 0 at stumps, and would have wanted their bowlers to be on the mark from the beginning on Saturday. MS Dhoni began with Ishant Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja in the morning and both found their lengths immediately. Ishant persisted with bowling one side of the wicket, while Jadeja got into the groove with a tight line in and around off.
With both Ishant and Jadeja not giving an inch, Graeme Smith (47) decided to charge Jadeja but the ball hit the top of his bat and looped to midwicket where Shikhar Dhawan took a good sharp catch. Hashim Amla (3) failed for the third time in three innings, getting castled by Mohammed Shami. Alviro Petersen (62) was out next ball, getting an edge to a Jadeja delivery that bounced and spun a little with Murali Vijay taking a good low catch in the slip.
That brought Kallis to the wicket and he was given a befitting guard of honour by the Indian players and the on-field umpires. It was not that easy to find gaps to the tight line Jadeja was bowling at and both Kallis and AB de Villiers (74) took their time.
De Villiers broke the shackles when he lofted Jadeja for a couple of boundaries and Kallis follow suit, lifting the left-arm spinner over his head for a couple of fours. Both the batsmen got a little cautious as lunch approached and went into the break at 181 for 3.
With the sun beating down, the pitch got a little easier to bat on and despite the reverse swing that the Indian seamers were getting, De Villiers and Kallis were extremely positive in their approach. De Villiers smashed Shami through the off side a couple of times and Kallis too drilled Zaheer Khan through covers as both the pacers erred in their lengths.
The stand, which had reached the 100 mark then, went from strength to strength with both the batsmen taking full toll of anything loose. Things were looking ominous for India as De Villiers got to his fifty and started to open up after that.
Jadeja, who by now getting more purchase from the wicket, provided the much-needed breakthrough when he enticed De Villiers to play a forward defensive stroke to a pitched-up delivery that took the outside edge from the bat before settling into Virat Kohli's hands in the slip.
Kallis, meanwhile, brought up his 59th Test half-century in his final Test with a cut through point for four. Dhoni did not take the second new ball as SA went for tea with 267 for 4 on the board.
Dhoni persisted with Rohit Sharma well after the tea break, not taking it till the end of day's play. That slowed the scoring rate a bit but also not provided India any breakthrough they desperately needed. India finally got the reward for persisting with spinners and old ball when Jadeja trapped JP Duminy (28) leg before to take his fourth wicket. Kallis and Steyn (0*) were at the crease when the slight drizzle and bad light stopped play.