Saurav Ganguly top-scored with 87 to guide India to a slender first innings lead against South Africa in the third and final test.
|Saurav Ganguly lashes out against |
South Africa [GALLO/GETTY]
Ganguly was ninth out after South African bowlers kept the pressure on a deteriorating pitch to reduce India to 288 for nine at stumps on the second day after the tourists were bowled out for 265 in their first innings on the first day.
Dale Steyn struck two quick blows as the South African fast bowlers claimed three wickets for 11 runs after claiming the second new ball in the final session.
India, needing victory to square the series, were 23 runs ahead with the last pair Shanthakumaran Sreesanth (9) and Ishant Sharma together at stumps.
Bowlers continued to dominate on a dusty Green Park pitch where some deliveries reared awkwardly from the cracks, making every run invaluable.
Ganguly guided the lower order after Vangipurappu Laxman scored a fluent 50 to revive the innings following the cheap dismissals of openers Virender Sehwag (8) and Wasim Jaffer (15).
Ganguly, who top-scored with 87 in the previous test which India lost by an innings and 90 runs, played solidly until he holed out Steyn to deep cover in a desperate bid to reach his 16th century before he ran out of partners.
He struck nine fours and a six off left-arm spinner Paul Harris, adding 65 runs for the fifth wicket with Yuvraj Singh and 60 for the next wicket with skipper Mahendra Dhoni. Both made 32.
South African fast bowlers Morne Morkel and Steyn took three wickets each, denying a big lead for India who will also have to bat last on the powdery surface.
Morkel, 23, removed Jaffer in the morning before returning after lunch to claim Dravid and Laxman off his successive overs.
Laxman added 78 runs for the third wicket with Dravid (29) to raise Indian hopes but their dismissals made it 123 for four.
Laxman, batting at number four in the absence of the injured Sachin Tendulkar, struck seven fours and was dropped on 43 by Jacques Kallis at slip after the batsman edged Harris.
Morkel first forced Dravid to glove a catch off a pitched-up delivery which rose awkwardly to be caught at gully, leaving the batsman rubbing his hand in pain as he walked away.
Laxman reached his 33rd test fifty but Morkel bowled him five balls later with a delivery which swung in as he shaped to play to midwicket.
Yuvraj top-edged a sweep against Harris to be caught at deep square leg but Ganguly went on to complete his 34th test fifty.
He scored quickly with Dhoni until the wicketkeeper was stumped trying a big heave against Harris, who took two for 89.
Steyn, South Africa's leading bowler in the series, got rid of Harbhajan Singh (6) and Ganguly with the second new ball as three wickets fell for 11 runs towards the end.
South Africa skipper Graeme Smith led the batting on day one after electing to bat.
He top-scored with 69 and added 91 runs for the second wicket with Hashim Amla (51) before young paceman Ishant Sharma and off spinner Harbhajan Singh took three wickets apiece to lead India's fightback and dismiss the tourists at stumps.