Durban:India emphasised that they are poor travellers no more by pulling off a series-levelling win in Durban, where they had suffered one of their worst Test defeats in 1996. The victory in Kingsmead, after a humiliating loss in the first Test in Centurion, joins the other famous successes over the past decade at some of the world's most fast-bowler friendly tracks - Headingley, Jamaica, Nottingham, Johannesburg and Perth.
The match was even at the start of the fourth day, but India's bowlers barely sent down a bad ball in the morning session to seize control of the Test. A Sreesanth snorter to Jacques Kallis started South Africa's slide, before two lbws - one a marginal decision and the other a howler - that are sure to refuel the UDRS debate, hurt them further. Ashwell Prince tried to resist but India plugged away to remove the tail an hour into the second session and set up a decider in Cape Town next week.
If the match has to-and-fro-ed over the week, so has Sreesanth's bowling form. The wayward, antic-loving Sreesanth was missing on the fourth morning, as he sent down an accurate spell of sustained hostility. The highlight was in the seventh over of the day - an utterly unplayable bouncer which reared up sharply and jagged in to Kallis, who had no way to avoid it, arched his back in an attempt to get out of the way, but could only glove it to gully. It was the snorter that was needed to remove the kingpin of South Africa's batting. They was no over-the-top Sreesanth celebration, just a fist pump before getting back to business.
That wicket put India slightly ahead, and there was no doubt who were front-runners after AB de Villiers decided to not offer a shot to a Harbhajan Singh delivery from round the wicket. He was struck in front of middle and looked lbw and the umpire agreed, though Hawk-Eye suggested the ball would have bounced over the stumps.
Over a decade in international cricket, Mark Boucher has built his reputation as a scrapper, and with Prince also around, it wasn't yet lights out for South Africa. Boucher, though, made only one before he was given lbw to a delivery that was angling across him and going to comfortably miss off stump.
South Africa had lost three wickets, and there was still no boundary in the morning, a testament to the scarcity of bad deliveries. When the first four did come, from Dale Steyn, it was an edge to third man. Steyn had pinged Zaheer Khan on the helmet with a quick bouncer on Tuesday, and the Indian responded with a string of short balls to the South African spearhead. After three of those, Zaheer slipped in a fuller delivery, which Steyn duly nicked to slip.
At 155 for 7, with lunch still 45 minutes away, the game looked set for a quick finish. Prince and Paul Harris, however, resisted with some dour batting, in addition to a couple of confident boundaries from Prince. They batted out the 10 overs to the break, but a pumped-up Zaheer, chatting to the batsmen after nearly every ball, ended the stand in his first over after the resumption that with a peach that crashed into Harris' off stump.
Prince and Morne Morkel then stood firm for an hour, reducing the required runs to double digits. The frustration seemed to have ended when Ishant Sharma had Morkel wafting to gully, but that turned out to be his regulation wicket off a no-ball. In his next over, though, he didn't overstep as he extracted the edge off Morkel to Dhoni. Two balls later, an alert Cheteshwar Pujara threw down the stumps from short leg catching the No. 11 Lonwabo Tsotsobe short, and sparking celebrations. The Indians were ready to grab the stumps as souvenirs, when they realised the third umpire was called for. The umpire confirmed the dismissal, and there was no stopping the celebrations this time round.