Ganguly top scores with 87 as India takes slender lead

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Kanpur, Apr 12 (UNI) Former captain Sourav Ganguly top scored with a chanceless 87 as India managed to take a slender 23-run first innings lead on the second day of the crucial third and final Test against South Africa at the Green Park stadium here today.

India were on 288 for the loss of nine wickets at the end of the day's play.

Ganguly and VVS Laxman (50) were the main contributors for the hosts.

The Bengal southpaw was playing his natural game, hitting nine boundaries and a huge six of Paul Harris.

SA speedster Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel scalped three wickets each while their lone recognized spinner Harris claimed two Indian wickets.

Ishant Sharma and Sreesanth were at the crease with zero and nine runs respectively when stumps were drawn for the day.

Tomorrow, the third day of the match would be a crucial one and both sides will fancy their chances of winning this match on a pitch which has favoured the bowlers as big cracks have developed and the ball was keeping low.

India started their innings in the morning but wickets fell at regular intervals. Expect for two 50-run partnerships, one between Rahul Dravid and Laxman and another between Sourav and Yuvraj, no other batsman could effectively face the Proteas bowling.

After restricting South Africa to 265 runs on the first day, India scored 88 after loosing both openers till lunch.

India started on a resounding note in the morning but Steyn in his third over struck the first blow for the visitors when Sehwag was caught leg-before to an in-swinger.

Sehwag score eight runs in 14 balls with two boundaries.

The second wicket of Wasim Jaffar was taken by Morkel. Jaffar was adjudged LBW but the batsman showed his annoyance on the decision.

Jaffar scored 15 runs in 34 balls. He struck 3 boundaries.

Then Dravid and Laxman steered the team till the lunch break and even had a 50 run partnership for the third wicket.

At the time of the tea break, India was still trailing by 100 runs.

In the post lunch session, India scored 77 runs but lost two quick wickets of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman. Both wickets were taken by Morkel.

Dravid was the first to go when a rising Morkel delivery hit his right wrist and the catch was taken by Devilliers at gully.

Dravid was in pain after taking the hit and was rushed to the pavilion. He played a valuable 29 run-innings which was studded with four boundaries.

The third wicket partnership between Dravid and Laxman yielded 78 runs in 185 balls.

Next to go was Laxman who was bowled by Morkel after he completing his 33rd half-century.

Laxman's 50 came in 103 balls and he hit 7 boundaries.

Tension ran high when Steyn had a verbal dual with Yuvraj after the latter hit two fours in an over. Timely intervention of skipper Graeme Smith and the umpires helped to resolve the matter.

The Green Park track has started to show its colour with the ball coming low and wicketkeeper Mark Boucher had problems while gathering the ball.

After tea, Yuvraj was the first to go when the score was at 188.

Yuvraj made 32 runs in 57 balls and was caught at mid-on when he tried to hit Harris, just after Ganguly hit the bowler for a huge six.

Ganguly then completed his 34th half-century in 76 balls. This was his second 50 at the Green Park.

Skipper M S Dhoni was next to go when he was stumped by Boucher when his score was 32 and the team total was 248.

Making a quick decision, SA captain Smith took the new ball after the completion of 80 overs and after two overs they got the seventh wicket of Harbhajan Singh when he ws declared LBW off the bowling of Steyn.

Next to go was local lad Piyush Chawla when he was caught by Smith off Ntini after scoring only four runs.

Sourav, who was nearing his century, tried to lift Steyn and was caught by Hashim Amla.

However, Sharma and Sreeshanth scored nine runs more before the day's play was called off.

Yesterday, on the first day of the match, South Africa were bowled out for 265 runs in 86.4 overs with Harbhajan and Ishant Sharma taking three wickets each for the host.

South Africa were leading by 0-1 in the three Test series. While the visitors won the second Test at Ahmedabad by an innings and 90 runs, the first encounter at Chennai produced a tame draw.

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