South Africa extracted a commendable draw in the first test match against India at MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chepauk, Chennai on Sunday, March 30, 2008, which would long be remembered for the heroic exploits of an Indian player. Not content with the titles of "Nawab of Najafgarh" and "Sultan of Multan," Sehwag went ahead to don the mantle of "Champion of Chepauk" with his second triple test century in the match which was scored at an incredible pace, leaving South African bowlers clueless with the run blizzard. It was this unusual individual contribution, which brought India back in the game and even raised hopes of a win, a possibility denied only due to sheer tenacity of South African reply with the bat.
India was asked to field after losing the toss and the decision proved to be only too good for South Africa who seemed to be enjoying their outing with the bat. Beginning with a solid partnership of 132 runs between Graeme Smith and McKenzie, South Africa looked all set to pile up a huge score against India. After Smith fell prey to Kumble at 73, Hashim Amla stepped in to score at an even greater pace before a well-deserved century effort from MacKenzie was cut short by Harbhajan in 51st over of the innings. For the rest of the day, Indian bowlers had to face an onslaught of runs by Amla with consolatory successes coming the way of hosts in the form of Kallis and Prince. South Africa was all-too satisfied to end the day with a score of 304 for 4 wickets.
Beginning the day with De Villiers and Amla at the crease, South Africa looked untroubled by the Indian pace and swing. After Sreesanth worked up some effective pace to claim the wicket of De Villiers, Mark Boucher made sure to lap up whatever came his way without giving away too much space for another wicket, leaving Amla to call the shots at the other end. Amla almost single-handedly blunted the Indian attack and batted past the 150 mark with astonishing ease when India got lucky with a run-out chance successfully capitalized by Sreesanth, Dhoni and Kumble to get rid of the demolition man. Later, it was the slower swing of Sehwag, which helped claim the wicket of Boucher, but it was perhaps a little too late, as South Africa had already scored in excess of 450 runs by the time. Next, Harbhajan Singh came in handy to wrap up the South African tail for a total cricket score of no less than 540 runs in 152.5 overs. India was cut to the task straightaway and the opening pair of hosts put up a fine display of batting to end the day at the score of 82 runs without losing any wickets.
Looking unfazed against an intelligent South African attack, Sehwag was literally in the "zone," batting at his sublime best with a characteristic streak of aggression, which saw anything lose coming his way being posted beyond the boundary line. For South Africa, Harris provided the much-needed initial break in the form of Jaffer's wicket but India must not have been dissatisfied with a 213-run opening stand. Sehwag let his willow do most of the talk with Dravid securing the fort at the other end as Chennai crowd was treated to the sight of quite a few cricketing landmarks being set by the Nawab of Najafgarh. After being signed off by most of his critics, he came up with an unusual knock which saw him ending the day unbeaten at the figure of 309 which equaled the exact score in his first triple test century effort at Multan. The day was destined to go down in the history of cricket as a memorable one, when the Delhi lad, Sehwag would join an elite league of cricketers including the likes of Don Bradman and Brian Lara, the only two batsmen before Sehwag to have the honor of becoming triple test centurion twice in their careers. Adding yet another feather in the cap, this knock turned out to be the fastest triple test century scored in the entire history of test cricket. It should be remembered that Sehwag is the only Indian player to score a triple test century, the first one of which came against Pakistan in 2004.
For the moment, India proudly ended the day at a score of 468 runs for the loss of a single wicket and looked ahead to make most of the remaining innings.
Early in the day, India lost the dream wicket of Sehwag who was now bearing the burden of a billion expectations to continue with his game at least for a couple of more sessions but ironically, all it took to end his dream knock was a special Ntini effort at no more than a score of 319. Proving kind of a nemesis for India, Ntini claimed the wickets of Tendulkar and Dravid which did not bode well for the hosts. Suddenly, Indian batting started looking all-too vulnerable as Harris came in good with the wickets of Ganguly and Laxman and Steyn wrapped up the Indian tail to bundle out the hosts for 627 runs in 155.1 overs. After India messed up its chances to extract a win against South Africa, visitors left no stone unturned to make sure that the result did not go in the favor of opponent side. South Africa lost a single wicket before ending the day at the score of 131 runs.
Amla and Mckenzie began the day for South Africa in a dream fashion, laying the foundation for a much-desired draw at this stage. McKenzie pitched in with an unusually resilient batting effort which frustrated Indian bowling attack like anything as Amla scored a gritty 81- run knock at the other end to help the South African cause. Harbhajan Singh, for one did come good for India, claiming the wickets of Smith, Kallis and Prince but on the whole, Indian attack proved all-too ineffectual to make a difference in the result. The inevitability of a draw slowly seeped in after the lunch and the proceedings were more of a formality than anything else. Finally, South Africa decided to call it a day more than an hour before the formal closing time with a cricket score of 331 runs for the loss of 5 wickets. For all practical purposes, the match was drawn to the disappointment of India and relief of South Africa, but it was Sehwag's triple century effort, which stole the limelight for which he received a well-deserved Man of the Match award to be remembered for quite a while.
Last Updated on 24 August 2012