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Du Plessis South Africa's hero again

By AAP .
23 December 2013 04:05AM EST

FAF du Plessis and AB de Villiers hit centuries as South Africa and India fought out an epic draw in the first Test at the Wanderers Stadium on Sunday.

Set a world record victory target of 458, South Africa finished eight runs short on 7-450 after a day of tension and drama.

Du Plessis (134) and de Villiers (103) shared a fifth wicket partnership of 205 - a world record for a fifth wicket stand in the fourth innings of a Test match.

For much of the day, a draw seemed to be the best result that South Africa could hope for, but with de Villiers in particular batting with positive intent, the required run rate was always below five runs an over.

With Indian captain MS Dhoni forced to set defensive fields, de Villiers was bowled with 56 runs required in 13.5 overs, attempting to run the ball down to third man but edging it into his stumps.

JP Duminy cracked a boundary off Mohammed Shami but was then bowled off an inside edge, attempting another drive.

Vernon Philander, who hit a half-century in the first innings, joined du Plessis and pushed the score along while du Plessis remained rock solid.

With 20 needed off four overs, du Plessis pulled Zaheer Khan for four but was then run out by a direct hit from Ajinkya Rahane at mid-off as he attempted to retain the strike.

Du Plessis, who saved a Test with a century against Australia in similar circumstances on his debut in Adelaide last year, batted for 395 minutes, faced 309 balls and hit 15 fours.

South Africa settled for the draw but Dale Steyn hit the last ball of the match from Mohammed Shami for six to leave the hosts tantalisingly close.

Du Plessis and De Villiers came together before lunch and batted through the afternoon session with only minimal alarms on a pitch which played reasonably easily, although there was still some uneven bounce and deviation from a cracked surface.

The partnership was launched after Khan claimed his 300th Test wicket when he won a leg before wicket decision against Jacques Kallis, South Africa's senior batsman.

Kallis, who made 34, looked surprised when he was given out by umpire Rod Tucker. Replays showed the ball had come off an inside edge. In a series in which the decision review system is not being used, it was the first major error made by umpires Tucker and Steve Davis.

Fast bowler Shami bowled Alviro Petersen in the fifth over of the day, after South Africa resumed at 138 for two, with Petersen failing to add to his overnight score of 76.

Petersen played a tentative defensive shot to a ball outside his off stump and was bowled off an inside edge.

The world record for a successful run chase is 418 for seven by West Indies against Australia in St John's in 2002/03.

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