Ryan Harris was on target for South Africa © Getty Images
Mar 1, 2014
Australia rocked the South African boat through their frontline bowlers, leaving them in trouble at lunch at 127 for four.
Michael Clarke, always looking to sniff a win whenever an opportunity presents itself, made an overnight declaration with total disregard for his own personal milestones and the move didn’t take more than five overs to reap rewards, with the tentative Graeme Smith’s miserable run continued with Ryan Harris inducing an edge of the South African captain’s bat for Brad Haddin to take a regulation catch.
Haddin’s moment of the session came a few overs later, when he took a brilliant diving catch of Dean Elagar. Credit should go to comeback man James Pattinson for setting up the wicket beautifully with an absolute peach.
The South African batsmen had two options at that point; either to trudge along nervously or go after the bowling. The hosts chose the later. Alviro Petersen led the charge with some fine all around the wicket. With Clarke attacking relentlessly with close-catching fieldsmen, the batsmen started to find the boundaries at will. There were a few half chances too. Petersen himself was dropped early in his innings albeit from a difficult chance for Steven Smith and Petersen’s attacking play found the palms of the fielders on a couple of occasions.
Petersen soon got his half-century and didn’t last long. The South African opener would be kicking himself for nicking a wayward delivery down the leg side to give Haddin his third catch.
The impregnable duo, Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers looked solid, especially Amla who played some beautiful cover drives but the warhorse Harris pulled a rabbit out of the hat with a full length delivery with a hint of late swing after pitching in the ‘rough’ to leave the hosts in trouble.
For Australia, Ryan Harris has been the pick of the bowlers while Mitchell Johnson has been his menacing self, targeting the helmet and the rib cage of the batsmen. Australia came out with a plan of getting wickets despite leaking runs and they have done just that.
Australia 494 for 7 (David Warner 135, Michael Clarke 161*, Steven Smith 84; JP Duminy 4 for 73) lead South Africa 127 for 4 (Alviro Petersen 53, Hashim Amla 38, Dean Elgar 13; Ryan Harris 2 for 18) by 367 runs.