Jacques Kallis' final hurrah drives South Africa
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In South Africa they call him King Kallis. His entrance to the crease on Saturday did have a royal touch to it. The whole of Kingsmead was on its feet with the opposition gathering around giving him a guard of honour. After all, walking to the middle, probably for the last time, was one of the greatest ever to have stepped onto a cricket field - the foremost all-rounder of his generation.
And yet again Jacques Kallis had walked into a situation where South Africa needed him to be their Rock of Gibraltar, another synonym, by the way, that is used extensively for the 38-year-old. Graeme Smith had just thrown his wicket away after a good start. Hashim Amla had then been cleaned up by Mohammed Shami. Soon Alviro Petersen would follow suit. The hosts had slipped from a situation of strength into a predicament with who else but Kallis to grind them out of it.
In a way there was a sense of poetry to it. Kallis had arrived at the climax of his Test career only to find himself in a situation that he had made his own for 18 years. Here he was all set to ride into the sunset but still having to hold the reins of his team's fortunes for that one last time.
Not surprisingly, he went about his business like it was no big deal. King Kallis was holding court, like always with little fuss. As always though, his stroke-play was laced with plenty of majesty. His head lording over the ball with his front-foot stretched out, allowing the bat to come down with elegance and send it scurrying through the covers for four. Then the square-drive, riding the bounce and punching the ball right at its ascent past the point fielder. Kallis was doing it again.
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