Cricket: India on verge of securing victory in Test series

India 237 & 400-7 dec South Africa 177 & 58-3
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India's bowlers, inspired by Mohammed Azharuddin's unbeaten 163, carried their side to the brink of a first series victory over South Africa in the deciding Test in Kanpur yesterday.

South Africa, set a target of 461 to win, had slumped to 127 for 5 by close on the fourth day and face the virtual certainty of a 2-1 series defeat today.

Azharuddin punished the tourists' attack in the first session after starting the day 12 runs short of his century. He completed his 16th century in 75 Tests, and by the declaration had struck 25 boundaries and a six off Pat Symcox in a 288-ball stay. His sixth-wicket stand of 165 with Rahul Dravid (56) was an Indian record for any wicket against South Africa.

India finally called a halt at their lunch score of 400 for 7, setting South Africa a target never achieved by a side batting last in 120 years of Test cricket. The tourists suffered an early blow when Gary Kirsten was trapped leg-before for seven by Javagal Srinath. Then Herschelle Gibbs was bowled by Venkatesh Prasad for five and Darryl Cullinan, at the non-striker's end, was run out for two by a direct hit from Sachin Tendulkar at mid-off.

Fourth day; India won toss

INDIA - First Innings 237 (S R Tendulkar 61, W V Raman 57; P R Adams 6-55).

SOUTH AFRICA - First Innings 177 (A Kumble 4-71, J Srinath 3-42).

INDIA - Second Innings

(Overnight: 270 for 5)

M Azharuddin not out 163

R S Dravid c McMillan b Adams 56

S Joshi b Adams 16

A R Kapoor not out 6

Extras (b4 lb14 nb2) 20

Total (for 7 dec, 126 overs) 400

Fall (cont): 6-357 7-385.

Bowling: De Villiers 24-10-58-2 (2nb); Klusener 25-7-72-2; McMillan 16- 6-36-0; Cronje 15-5-31-0; Adams 20-1-84-2; Symcox 26-2-101-1.

SOUTH AFRICA - Second Innings

A C Hudson c sub (Laxman) b Kumble 31

G Kirsten lbw b Srinath 7

H H Gibbs b Prasad 5

D J Cullinan run out 2

*W J Cronje c Tendulkar b Joshi 50

B M McMillan not out 18

D J Richardson not out 5

Extras (lb9) 9

Total (for 5, 63 overs) 127

To bat: L Klusener, P L Symcox, P S De Villiers, P R Adams.

Fall: 1-21 2-26 3-39 4-97 5-109.

Bowling (to date): Srinath 11-4-15-1; Prasad 9-4-24-1; Kumble 16-7-17- 1; Kapoor 9-4-10-0; Joshi 18-5-52-1.

Umpires: S Venkataraghavan (Ind) and D R Shepherd (Eng).