Du Plessis, de Villiers ensure thrilling draw
First they pulled off 438, the highest successful chase in ODIs. Today, faced with a target of 458 on a tricky Wanderers pitch, South Africa came within eight runs of breaking the world record for a chase in Test cricket.
At the start of the fifth day, South Africa needed 320 with eight wickets in hand, and a draw was their more realistic goal. But after losing two wickets early on, Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers, the protagonists of the Adelaide escape, began a partnership that swelled to 205 and turned the game. They took South Africa to within 56 runs of victory. By the time both were dismissed, South Africa needed 16 runs, but with only Imran Tahir and the injured Morne Morkel to come, Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn batted out 19 deliveries to secure one of the game’s greatest draws.
The two quicks were the last men standing after what will be remembered as one of the most exciting last hours of Test cricket. It began with de Villiers and du Plessis at the crease, both having scored a hundred and South Africa needing 66 off 15 overs to win. But then India surged back into contention by removing both and JP Duminy in the next 12 overs, before it all ended with Philander and Steyn choosing safety first despite how close South Africa were.
Du Plessis and de Villiers batted together for a minute short of four hours and faced 375 balls to take South Africa from 197 for 4 – when they still needed 261 runs to win – to being in sight of victory. They showed immense patience and composure on a pitch with variable bounce and sizeable cracks, wore down an Indian attack that tried everything and rode the luck that came their way
Summarized scores: India 280 (Kohli 119, Philander 4-61) and 421 (Pujara 153, Kohli 96) drew with South Africa 244 (Smith 68, Philander 59, Ishant 4-79, Zaheer 4-88) and 450 for 7 (Du Plessis 134, De Villiers 103)