At Durban, December 26-30, 2013. South Africa won by ten wickets. Toss: India.
South Africans were given the most unwanted Christmas present when, with the nation sitting down to lunch with all the trimmings, Kallis announced that his 166th Test would be his last. A South African team without him had been unthinkable for 18 years. The future was as dark as a dead braai fire, even if he did leave with another hundred and one last Test victory, securing a brief but eventful 1-0 triumph.
It was darker still when bad light limited the first day's play to 61 overs, in which India reached 181 for one. The lone bright spot for the hosts was Morkel, who had supposedly been ruled out for seven to ten days when he twisted an ankle at Johannesburg, but was now making what Smith called a "miracle" recovery. To Morkel went South Africa's only success of the first day - Dhawan taken at third slip straight after drinks. Then Vijay and Pujara made themselves at home on a pitch that would not have seemed out of place in Chennai or Bangalore, and which helped explain why South Africa had lost their four previous Tests at Kingsmead.
Rain put paid to the second morning, but South Africa quickly made up for lost time, taking the nine remaining wickets in 50 overs for 153. Having gone 69 Test overs without a wicket, and been relieved by Philander of the No. 1 Test ranking he had held since 2009, Steyn found furious intensity and no little swing to claim six for 100. His first victim was Pujara, caught behind for 70 to end the second-wicket partnership at 157. He followed that by removing Vijay on 97, gloving a leg-side catch to de Villiers. Still, at 320 for five, India remained in control, only for the last five to fall for 14, leaving Rahane high and dry. The collapse included Kallis's 200th Test catch; he was only the second to reach that mark, after Rahul Dravid.
By the close, Smith and Petersen had chipped 82 runs off the arrears, only for three quick wickets on the third morning to swing the game India's way once more. Enter Kallis, who was greeted by an Indian guard of honour, waited 16 balls to get off the mark, and reached the close ominously unbeaten on 78. This was no ceremonial last hurrah - South Africa needed their rock to do what he did best. Stands of 127 with de Villiers and 58 with Duminy turned the innings around. Kallis's best friend, Mark Boucher, had arrived by now to join in the grand occasion. He looked forward to getting his mate back full-time: "We can sit around a fire for four hours and not say a word to each other except: 'Your round.'" Kallis's agent, Dave Rundle, had interrupted his trip to New York to be there.
There was only one polite way to oblige. An hour into the fourth day, Kallis dabbed Jadeja to midwicket for a single to bring up his 45th Test century, his seventh against India (he had more against only England and West Indies - eight each), and his fifth at Kingsmead. He inched, by a single, past the Test tally of Rahul Dravid - at the ground as a commentator - and into third place on the all time list, on 13,289. Only Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar remained out of reach. Three balls later, Kallis went for 115, top-edging a sweep off Jadeja to Dhoni, who refused to accept the new ball until the seam split on the old one after 146 overs (regulations necessitate a new ball if the old one has to be changed after 110 overs). That was a factor in Jadeja's haul of six for 138, but he wouldn't have made the most of his opportunity had he not found biting turn.
A stand of 110 between du Plessis and Peterson - who somehow survived an lbw shout from Mohammed Shami on 31, but later played an outrageous switch hit for six off Rohit Sharma - helped South Africa reach 500 before they were dismissed with a lead of 166. By the close, India were 68 for two, and fighting for their lives. South Africa strengthened their grip on the last morning. Steyn had Kohli caught behind with the first ball of the day, though it came off his sleeve, then bowled Pujara with one that turned into a beauty after deviating off a crack. Peterson chipped in: Dhoni and Jadeja both carelessly offered catches, before Zaheer Khan was undone by a previously unseen carrom ball, suggested moments earlier by wicketkeeper de Villiers (had DRS been in use, it would have spared Zaheer: the ball was comfortably sliding down leg). Steyn and Philander cleaned up, but not before Rahane had once more got stuck in. He deserved a century, and the six he hit off Philander - over point, one foot off the ground - was worth at least a dozen. Alas, he went for 96.
When Ishant Sharma mimed a giraffe in the headlights and fended a bouncer off his sternum to de Villiers, Steyn joined Richard Hadlee in taking 350 wickets in 69 Tests, three more than Muttiah Muralitharan. Steyn got there in nine years and 14 days. South Africa needed 58 to win; Smith and Peterson obliged. Then it was time for Kallis's Test-match goodbye, which started with a lap of honour and a pause to down a beer proffered from beyond the boundary. At the press conference, he managed to list three former girlfriends among his acknowledgments, said he had "lost a little hair, gained a little hair" (he had transplants in 2010), and described his Test career as "one big, fun experience". For once, the most telling words came from a reporter: "Jacques, what the hell are we going to write about now?"
Man of the Match: D. W. Steyn. Man of the Series: A. B. de Villiers.