On this day in 2013, South Africa almost chased the highest ever fourth innings target in their home Test match against India.
It was the same venue where South Africa chased the highest ever ODI target (target 435 runs; scored 438/9 in 49.5 overs) against Australia in 2006 – The Wanderers Stadium (Johannesburg). It was the first Test of the two-match Test series between the hosts South Africa and the visitors India.
Before The Day 5
India decided to bat first after winning the toss. Indian cricketer Virat Kohli’s 119 helped the visitors to score 280 runs in their first innings before getting all-out. After the openers lost their wickets at the early stage, next Indian batsmen rescued the team with the support of Kohli and later the lower-order batting faced a huge collapse. The South African pacers dominated over the visiting batsmen while Vernon Philander (4/61) picked up four wickets and Morne Morkel (3/34) took three wickets.
In reply, South Africa was bundled out for 244 runs and India managed to earn a 36-run lead at the end of that innings. While the Indian pacers Zaheer Khan (4/88) and Ishant Sharma (4/79) both picked up four wickets each, the Protease skipper Graeme Smith (68) played the highest knock and Philander (59) carried the team at later after coming to bat on 146/6.
In their second innings, India managed to score a big total of 421 runs, thanks to Cheteshwar Pujara’s 153 and Virat Kohli’s 96 runs.
Chasing down the mammoth 458 runs, South Africa was batting on 138/2 at the end of the day four while the opener Alviro Petersen (76*) and the no.4 batsman Faf du Plessis (10*) )were batting.
The Day 5 (22 December 2013)
While India was the very favourite to win that game, South Africa had to battle to draw that game but no one thought seriously about the other option. On the very early day five, Petersen (76 runs) lost his wicket without adding any runs on his overnight score. The hosts came to back-foot after losing Jacques Kallis (34) in the same session as they went down to 197/4.
Since then, Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers played their memorable innings to not only save the game also to take the team to close of the fourth innings target. Apart from the remaining first session, they remained intact in the entire second session. They had the massive 205-run partnership for the fifth wicket and spent 62.3 overs on the pitch (almost 2/3 of the day) before de Villiers lost his wicket on 103 runs. Both the batsmen completed their centuries in that partnership.
JP Duminy (5 runs) lost his wicket in the very next over while Faf carried that innings with another good partnership with Philander. They had the crucial 35-run partnership for the seventh wicket before Faf (134) lost his wicket through a run-out. When that wicket was fallen, South was on 442/7 and they needed 16 more runs in 19 balls.
Philander (25*) and Steyn (6*) both remained not out at the crease till the end while South Africa managed to score 450/7 – just eight runs short from the target. Though the hosts were successful to draw that game very well, they just failed to chase the highest ever fourth innings target. It means West Indies’ successfully chase of the 418-run target (418/7) against Australia at St John’s (Antigua) has still remained the highest ever successful chasing target in the fourth innings of the Test history.