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South Africa Close In On Opener Win

South Africa finds themselves on the brink of victory over India in the first Test in Centurion, despite being witness to Sachin Tendulkar's 50th Test hundred.

The visitors reached 454-8 in their second innings at the close of play, still trailing South Africa’s first innings total by 30 runs.

Tendulkar ended the day on 107 not out, however the loss of MS Dhoni for 90, and Harbhajan Singh towards the end of the day’s play, has made it an almost impossible task for India to save this opener.

South Africa had taken such a significant stride towards victory by scalping four wickets during the first session that it seemed as though their 1-0 series lead would be secure before tea.

However, in stepped the little genius that is Tendulkar.

Tendulkar and Dhoni ensured that some form of respectability of the most widely feared batting line up in the game remained.

Having been bowled out for 136 on a rain interrupted first day and having suffered in the field as South Africa racked up an enormous 620-4 declared, India are now left needing a miracle on day five to avoid going 1-0 down in the series.

India began yesterday on 190-2 as night-watchman Ishant Sharma hung around for 10 overs before falling victim to Steyn.

Rahul Dravid became the third man in history to reach 12,000 Test runs on his way to 43.

Another record was broken shortly after as Tendulkar upped his run rate after tea to bring up his 50th Test hundred.

However, India's joy was short-lived as Steyn forced Dhoni to fend a rising ball which flew straight to Mark Boucher.

Shortly after Harris found enough turn on a deteriorating pitch to have Harbhajan caught at slip by Kallis.

India will be looking for a much-improved batting performance leading into the Second Test in Durban on Boxing Day.

South Africa have dominated all but one session of the opener, and  the fact that most of the opening day had been lost to rain is testament to just how good the South African bowling line-up really is.

The bookmakers, not surprisingly, are calling this series heavily in favour of the hosts.

India will lose this Test match in the first session tomorrow, however one would imagine that India are too good a team to suffer the same humiliating display in the Boxing Day Test. 

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