Gary Kirsten, the India coach, praised his bowlers after a post-tea party that saw Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh haul the hosts out of trouble on the opening day of the second Test in Kolkata. South Africa, leading the series 1-0 after their innings victory in Nagpur, were cruising at 218-1 before a dramatic collapse saw them lose eight wickets for 43 runs to close the day on 266-9.
Khan took three of those wickets and claimed a run-out, while Singh got three more to put South Africa's dream of winning their first Test series in India in a bit of doubt. "We were in trouble at tea, let's be honest about that," said Kirsten, a former opening batsman for South Africa. "We were in a spot of bother. All credit to the bowlers for turning it around. They showed tremendous resilience. Zaheer is the leader of our attack. So full credit to bowlers for the way they are performing in the Indian team. We have been backing ourselves to get 20 wickets in a Test and they are doing the business.
"Harbhajan bowled really well in the last game. It was the South Africans who played him really well there. He needed to come up in ways, even though he was in good rhythm, to get wickets. "Don't look at the results but look at the bowling. I have been very confident that he has got better and better as the series has gone along. We know he is a strike bowler. When he gets it going and the confidence is high, he is going to get wickets also."
After the early loss of Graeme Smith, it seemed like déjà vu day as the debutant Alviro Petersen and Hashim Amla, South Africa's hero in the win at Nagpur, shut the Indians out with centuries from both ends. The tide, however, turned dramatically in the final session as the Proteas lost seven wickets for 38 runs. Khan started the slide by getting a thick outside edge from Petersen just before tea. Returning from the break, he had Amla edging a pull shot to the keeper. Singh, who earned the tag of "Turbanator" at this very same Eden Gardens against Steve Waugh's Australians, then took over, picking up three wickets in eight deliveries - Jacques Kallis and then Ashwell Prince and JP Duminy off successive balls.
South Africa's position at the end, however, could not spoil Petersen's joy at scoring a century on his debut. "It is a special feeling, firstly making my Test debut and scoring a hundred at this fantastic venue," he said. "Yesterday [Saturday], they told me that I am in the team 99 per cent. So I had an evening to really think it over, and visualise what I wanted to achieve out of it. "This morning, when I walked over the rope to play, it was a special feeling, a massive achievement. I was really determined when I put on the South African jersey to play. On my debut, it was just extra special to get a hundred.
"I'd probably dedicate this century to myself for all the hard work I have put in during the last couple of years." email@example.com
G Smith b Khan 4 A Petersen c Dhoni b Khan 100 H Amla c Dhoni b Khan 114 J Kallis c Laxman b H Singh 10 AB de Villers run out 12 A Prince lbw b H Singh 1 J Duminy lbw b H Singh 0 D Steyn lbw b Mishra 5 P Harris c Dhoni b Sharma 1 W Parnell not out 2 M Morkel not out 3 Extras 1b, 4lb, 9nb 14 Total (9 wkts, 81 overs) 266 Fall of wickets: 1-9; 2-218; 3-229; 4-251; 5-253; 6-253; 7-254; 8-255; 9-261 Bowling: Khan 21-5-77-3; Sharma 17-3-56-1; Mishra 20-3-68-1; H Singh 23-2-60-3