Mumbai: Mumbai pacer Shardul Thakur pushed South Africa to the backfoot before the classy AB de Villiers rallied the tourists with a typically aggressive century on the second and last day of the practice game against Board President's XI which ended in a draw here on Saturday.
Shardul Thakur during the match. (Photo: AP)
The visitors, replying to Board XI's modest first innings tally of 296 and commencing the day at the overnight 46 for 2, were reeling at 57 for 5 following a double strike by Thakur before recovering through two partnerships -- both involving de Villiers (112) -- to aggregate 302 for a token lead of 6.
AB de Villiers plays a shot during the match. (Photo: AP)
When play was called off, the hosts were 92 for no loss in their second innings with India's first Test squad members KL Rahul, who made 72 in the first essay, unbeaten on 43 and captain Cheteshwar Pujara, on 49.
All the runs were scored off spin bowlers as the fast bowlers did not bowl at all. Thakur, who had packed off opener Stiaan van Zyl and night watchman Simon Harmer in a short burst last evening, continued to trouble the visitors this morning by dismissing two of their top batsmen -- Faf du Plussis (4) and rival Test captain Hashim Amla (1) -- to leave them gasping at 57 for 4.
And pacer Nathu Singh finally found some rhythm after another wayward beginning to induce an edge from left-handed opener Dean Elgar (23).
The tourists were on the mat before de Villiers, who slammed 18 hits to the fence during his 131-ball knock, and Temba Bavuma (15) put on 54 runs in 72 balls to steady the rocking innings. (Photo: AP)
Later, de Villiers -- scorer of three tons in the best-of-five ODI rubber as captain -- combined forces with wicketkeeper Dane Vilas, who made an enterprising 58 in 108 minutes, to carry his team past the 200 mark with a partnership of 115 in 139 balls.
The stand was broken by off-spinner Jayant Yadav, brought on pretty late in the innings by home team captain Pujara, bowled the Proteas wicketkeeper round his legs as he went to sweep the bowler.
De Villiers departed at the stroke of tea. He was bowled by Jayant while trying to push a ball, to provide the off-spinner with his second wicket after a stay of 208 minutes at the crease.
The first hour of the morning, however, belonged to Thakur as he added the prized scalps of Du Plessis and veteran Amla in a short burst.
Du Plessis, who scored a brilliant 133 in 115 balls for a winning cause in the fifth and final ODI at the nearby Wankhede stadium, was trapped leg before by Thakur with a full length delivery. Later, the Mumbai youngster got rid of Amla, caught edging at first slip.
Thakur, at this stage, had grabbed four wickets in 25 balls for 8 runs, beginning Friday when he started with the wicket of van Zyl.
But de Villiers showed he was the master and struck the same bowler for two successive boundaries -- a rasping square cut followed by a clip off toes and got on top of the bowling to dominate the show.
When leg-spinner Karn Sharma came on to bowl he was punished mercilessly by the tourists' ODI captain and Vilas. Sharma was cut, swept, pulled and driven easily and only after he was replaced by off spinner Yadav did Board XI taste success by getting rid of Vilas, who hit seven fours.
At the stroke of tea, de Villiers was bowled after having batted for 208 minutes and faced 131 balls. South Africa were 259 for 8.
Dale Steyn used the long handle to make 37 and help SA take the lead. For Board XI, Thakur was the most impressive bowler with figures of 4 for 70 in 16 overs, while spinners Yadav and Kuldeep picked up two wickets each.
Nathu Singh and Hardik Patel scalped one wicket each though the former did not complete his 15th over and went off the field. The biggest disappointment was leg-spinner Karn Sharma, who has already played a Test in Australia but was pretty ordinary.
Brief scores: Board President's XI: 296 and 92 for no loss (KL Rahul not out 43, C Pujara not out 49).
South Africa 302 (AB de Villiers 112, D Vilas 58, D Steyn 37; S Thakur 4 for 70, Jayant Yadav 2 for 37, Kuldeep Yadav 2 for 24)...