Updated: Sunday, 29 December 2013 00:53 | By Agence France-Presse

Kallis plays 'perfect' innings in final Test match

Jacques Kallis, playing in his final Test match, ground out an unbeaten 78 after South Africa lost three wickets in quick succession on the third day of the second and final Test against India at Kingsmead on Saturday.

Kallis plays 'perfect' innings in final Test match

South Africa's Jacques Kallis pictured on the third day of the second and final Test against India at Kingsmead in Durban on December 28, 2013

South Africa were 299 for five, 35 runs behind India's first innings total of 334, when rain brought an early close.

Kallis, 38, received a standing ovation from the crowd and a guard of honour from the Indian players when he walked out to bat after Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla had been dismissed for 47 and three respectively.

Before he faced a ball, Alviro Petersen was caught at slip for 62 off a ball from Ravindra Jadeja which bounced more than Petersen expected.

Left-arm spinner Jadeja put a clamp on the scoring rate and picked up four for 87 in 37 overs.

It was one of Kallis' slower innings as he batted for 274 minutes, facing 224 balls and hitting ten fours.

But Petersen said the veteran had played the ideal innings as South Africa sought to eke out a first innings lead and then try to put pressure on India in the second innings.

"First prize is to bat past them and see how far we can get ahead. With the wicket turning we don’t want to be batting last on it, ideally," said Petersen.

Petersen said the way Kallis played showed he could continue on in Test cricket.

"The way he committed to every single shot was brilliant," he said.

"He's not a guy you would think is playing his last Test match. He looks like he is in the prime of his career.

"I thought he played the perfect innings in the situation we were in. With all the pressure playing his last Test and to stand tall the way he did and hopefully continue tomorrow is remarkable."

Kallis, who announced before the match that he would retire from Test cricket, shared a fourth wicket partnership of 127 with AB de Villiers (74) after South Africa lost three wickets for ten runs to be wobbling at 113 for three.

Most of the enterprise came from De Villiers, who continued in a rich vein of form which has taken him to the top of both the Test and one-day international batting rankings. He hit nine boundaries in a 117-ball innings.

But after De Villiers was caught at slip off Jadeja, the scoring rate almost ground to a halt with Kallis taking no chances.

It was important from a team point of view, too, that South Africa secured a first innings lead on a pitch on which Jadeja gained turn and occasional unexpected bounce.

Kallis and JP Duminy (28) added 58 runs off 176 balls, a scoring rate of just under two runs an over, as Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni set defensive fields and declined to take the second new ball, with the batsmen finding it difficult to be assertive against accurate slow bowling in deteriorating light.

"Sometimes when you try to push a game you get yourself into trouble," said Petersen.

"In the latter stages of an innings you can always push on but I don’t think we’ve reached that stage yet."

Kallis advanced to a half-century off 131 balls when he cut Jadeja for four shortly after De Villiers was dismissed.

It was the 103rd time in 166 Tests that Kallis had scored 50 or more, with 44 of those innings converted into centuries.

But it was his first Test half-century in eight innings, going back to a match against Pakistan in Johannesburg in February.

He gave a sharp chance to Shikhar Dhawan at silly mid-off against Jadeja when he was on 74.

Jadeja bowled impressively in only his sixth Test, bowled with tight control.

"I was just trying to bowl in the right areas," he said.

"To right-handers I was bowling just outside off stump and to the left-handers into the rough. The ball was turning and I was just thinking not to give them room."

Jadeja said the wicket of De Villiers was crucial.

"Kallis and AB were playing very well. We need to get Kallis out as early as possible tomorrow."

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