All the South African pacers were right on the money from ball one of the Australian innings © Getty Images (File Photo)
Feb 21, 2014
Australia ended Day Two of the second Test against South Africa tottering at 112 for the loss of four wickets, in reply to South Africa’s first innings total of 423.
Australia were rocked early on in their innings when opener Chris Rogers was caught plumb in front by Vernon Philander. But then, David Warner counterattacked the South African pacers, hitting Dale Steyn for 15 in an over and Philander for 10. Philander and Warner, in fact, got in a tussle of words as the left-hander hit him for two consecutive fours.
But then came the over of the day. Wayne Parnell, making a comeback to Test cricket, bowled an absolute peach of a delivery to Alex Doolan first up, who didn’t have an answer to it. The best he could manage was hand a simple carrying edge to AB de Villiers, who obliged with the catch.
Then came in Shaun Marsh, the centurion from the first Test. But he too couldn’t fight Parnell’s venomous swing. Parnell sent him packing on the second delivery he faced. While Parnell snared the wickets, Morne Morkel probably bowled the fastest spell of his life early on. He was consistently touching the 149kmph mark. It was crazy scenes at Port Elizabeth as suddenly, in matter of 3 balls, South Africa had taken complete control of the Test by the scruff of the neck.
Michael Clarke then joined Warner in the middle, and the two of them played on aggressively untill Clarke too lost his wicket to Philander, who came back for his second spell. Warner too rode his luck time and again, as survived what was probably one of the most vicious spells of fast bowling in recent times, by Morkel
Earlier in the day, South Africa pushed across 400 in the first innings, thanks to some sensational batting by de Villiers and JP Duminy. Both batsmen batted beautifully in the morning session, as they piled up over a 100 runs at a good strike rate. De Villiers first reached his ton in the post-lunch session. In the process, he had scored his 19th Test century, and fifth against the Aussies.
But he soon lost his wicket to Nathan Lyon, who was the star performer with the ball for Australia. He took five wickets, including all the important ones of Dean Elgar, Faf du Plessis, de Villiers and Duminy. In fact, Lyon now has five five-wicket hauls in Tests, which is the second highest among all off-spinners from Australia to have played Test cricket.
Overall, we are placed beautifully for an exciting third day’s play at Port Elizabeth. The match is still nicely balanced. If Warner and anyone of Steven Smith or Brad Haddin can carry the innings, Australia will gain huge confidence, and if South Africa manage to pick up a few quick wickets in the morning session, they could well be eyeing a result in this match.
South Africa 423 (AB de Villiers 102, JP Duminy 123; Nathan Lyon 5 for 130) lead Australia 112 for 4 (David Warner 65*, Michael Clarke 19; Wayne Parnell 2 for 19) by 301 runs.