First Test: South Africa so close to record chase as India hold on

Last Updated: 22/12/13 7:38pm

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Faf du Plessis celebrates his century

Faf du Plessis celebrates his century

Sky Bet

South Africa came up just short of chasing down a world record target of 458 on the fifth day of the first Test against India in Johannesburg.

Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers both scored centuries to guide the Proteas to within touching distance of an incredible win at the Wanderers.

But after de Villiers (103) played on and then du Plessis (134) was run out, South Africa were forced to play more conservatively and batted out the final overs for a draw, finishing on 450-7, just eight runs short of a winning score.

The highest successful fourth innings run chase in Test history remains West Indies' 418 against Australia in Antigua in 2003.

With 127 needed in a minimum 30 overs after tea and with six wickets in hand, an improbable home win was still possible.

De Villiers and du Plessis each pushed on to their centuries and South Africa appeared favourites to win until Du Plessis was run out for 134. Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn left it too late to pursue the 16 runs still needed from the final over.

Resuming on 138-2 in the morning, the home side suffered an early blow when opener Alviro Petersen was bowled by Mohammed Shami off an inside edge without adding to his overnight 76.

Zaheer Khan then had Jacques Kallis lbw for 34 - unluckily, having also inside-edged the ball - to leave South Africa on 197-4. It was Zaheer's 300th wicket in Tests.

Du Plessis and De Villiers ensured the hosts reached the break without further loss, though, and pressed on through the afternoon session.

Their 50 partnership came up shortly after the restart and both players then reached the landmark individually - Du Plessis from 142 balls with four fours while De Villiers took 84 balls to get there with eight boundaries.

Century stand

De Villiers inside-edged a four to bring up the century stand and the team's 300 soon followed when Du Plessis diverted a vicious lifter from Zaheer past the slips.

By the time tea came around, Du Plessis was on 88 with De Villiers on 71 and the former soon reached three figures with a clip to deep mid-wicket for three off Zaheer.

De Villiers' century - 90 balls quicker than his partner's at 162 balls, with each hitting 12 fours - was greeted with an understated celebration, indicating the victory chase was uppermost in his mind.

But he added only three more runs before chopping on to give Ishant Sharma his first wicket.

JP Duminy played on against the dangerous Shami (3-107) for five but Philander hit Shami for four to keep South Africa within range and eight runs came off the 132nd over, meaning 20 were needed from the last four.

But Du Plessis was crucially run out, Ajinkya Rahane hitting the stumps as he had on day four to dismiss Graeme Smith, and made a devastated walk back to the dressing room.

Steyn was unable to score against some short-pitched bowling from Shami - and the lower-order pair were playing out time until first Steyn then Philander missed with wild hoiks at the third and fourth balls of the last over.

Philander jogged a long single off the next before a bizarre finish saw Steyn, having blocked his way to the end, hoist the final ball down the ground for a huge but meaningless six, the players leaving the field to somewhat harsh booing from the sparse crowd.

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