Jacques Kallis scored a fairytale hundred in his last Test as South Africa consolidated their position on the fourth day of the second and final Test against India, taking a 166-run lead which could prove decisive going into the fifth day in Durban. India were 68 for 2 in their second innings, still trailing the hosts by 98.
While Kallis (115) got to his 45th Test century, India had only themselves to blame. They paid price of avoiding taking the second new ball until the 147th over - 66 overs after it was due. When it was taken, South Africa had already amassed 431 for 7 on the board, with their lower-order raring to add more to their lead.
Indian batsmen, as expected, had a tough time against the South African pacemen, who were incisive in their line and lengths, offering not even an inch to their counterparts. Murali Vijay batted for 13 deliveries for his six, while Shikhar Dhawan battled for 87 balls for his 19. Cheteshwar Pujara (32*) had already faced 90 balls, while Virat Kohli (11) too batted for 26 deliveries before bad light stopped the play.
The morning session was as much about Kallis, as it was about MS Dhoni, who looked more stubborn than convinced for taking the second new ball. The old ball did make runs hard to come by but it also lacked the bite a new ball could have provided. Barring a few instances, the old ball hardly troubled Kallis, who was unbeaten on 78 overnight, and nightwatchman Dale Steyn, who was yet to score.
A new ball might have posed more questions to Kallis and Steyn but Dhoni decided not to take the chance, thus providing both the batsmen a chance to get themselves in. With Kallis taking his time to approach the landmark, it was Steyn whose attacking approach provided the impetus to the South African innings.
The partisan crowd at the Kingsmead and players at the South African dressing room rose to their feet when Kallis flicked Ravindra Jadeja towards midwicket to get to his 45th Test century. Kallis' 15th run after his hundred also took him past Rahul Dravid as the third highest run-getter in Test cricket, behind Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting.
He fell soon after though, top edging a slog sweep and giving Jadeja his fifth wicket. Jadeja's achievement was not the one many expected from the left-arm spinner whose main job was of containment. He not only restricted the flow of runs, but also kept on bowling from one end, allowing Dhoni to rotate his pacers from the other end and picking up wickets with his tight line and length.
But Dhoni might have overused Jadeja, persisting with him from one end throughout the first session. He had already bowled 55 overs until lunch, more than 2/3rd of the overall overs bowled till that point. Zaheer Khan got rid of Steyn, who had already done his share of the job, scoring 44 and sharing 86 with Kallis.
Robin Peterson is playing this match as a frontline spinner but he is also an accomplished lower-order batsman and he decided to push on the scoring rate after lunch. He made 24 of the 36 scored in six overs after the break before Dhoni finally decided to take the new ball, which almost provided the wicket of the left-handed batsman. He was plumb leg before to a Mohammed Shami incoming delivery but umpire Steve Davis thought otherwise.
What happened after that was what Dhoni feared the most. The hard new ball came to the bat better with runs started to come in boundaries. Both Peterson and Faf du Plessis first took the lead past 100 and then past 150, with the former getting to his fifty off just 44 balls.
Peterson was in such an ultra-aggressive mode that he played a scorching switch-hit off Rohit Sharma that stunned the Indians and thrilled South Africans in the changing room. He perished trying to keep the scoring rate up off Zaheer just before rain stopped play. India folded the South Africa innings as soon as the play resumed, running Du Plessis out for the second time in two innings and Jadeja taking his sixth wicket - a good reward for the spinner after toiling hard for over 58 overs.
It was always going to be an arduous task for the Indian batsmen to face the South African quicks in fading light. Steyn and Vernon Philander were so probing that India could only muster ten runs in first ten overs, also losing the wicket of Vijay, who nicked to a wobbly delivery from Philander, during the period.
Dhawan and Pujara battled hard for 134 balls for their 45-run stand before it was snapped by a brilliant one-handed catch by Du Plessis at mid-wicket. Pujara and Kohli ensured that India didn't lose any more wicket before stumps.