amla, alviro give Sa start

KOLKATA - Debutant Alviro Petersen and Hashim Amla smashed fluent centuries for South Africa before India hit back in a dramatic start to the second and final cricket Test yesterday.

KOLKATA - Debutant Alviro Petersen and Hashim Amla smashed fluent centuries for South Africa before India hit back in a dramatic start to the second and final cricket Test yesterday.

Petersen made 100 and Amla scored 114 to lift the Proteas to 218-1, before India ripped through the batting taking seven wickets for 32 runs to leave the tourists on 266-9 by stumps at Eden Gardens.

Left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan and off-spinner Harbhajan Singh had taken three wickets each when bad light halted play nine overs early.

India, who lost the first Test in Nagpur, need a win to square the series and retain their number one spot in the Test rankings.

South Africa, who need a draw to take over from India at the top, were well-placed as Petersen and Amla put on 209 for the second wicket after skipper Graeme Smith was removed by Zaheer.

Smith, who chose to play despite a fractured finger had made only four.

Petersen, handed a Test cap at the last minute after wicket-keeper Mark Boucher was ruled out with back spasms, responded with a superb century studded with 16 boundaries.

The 29-year-old from Port Elizabeth became only the third South African after Andrew Hudson and Jacques Rudolph to score a Test century on debut.

Amla followed his unbeaten 253 in the first Test with his ninth hundred in 43 matches.

Zaheer gave the hosts some respite by removing both batsmen on either side of the tea interval to catches by India captain and wicket-keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Harbhajan then dismissed Jacques Kallis for 10 to Venkatsai Laxman.

In his next over, Harbhajan trapped Ashwell Prince and Jean-Paul Duminy leg-before off successive deliveries, but Dale Steyn denied the bowler a hat-trick.

AB de Villiers was run out by a direct throw from Zaheer as he backed up for a sharp single, leaving South Africa tottering at 254-7.

Paul Harris and Steyn departed early, leaving the last pair of Wayne Parnell and Morne Morkell at the crease.

- Sapa-AFP

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