Feb 15, 2014
Australia started the day on top, and will be mighty pleased with their efforts in the morning session. Michael Clarke declared the Australian second innings at 290 for the loss of four wickets in just the fourth over of the day, after Shaun Marsh (44) lost his wicket to Dale Steyn.
It meant that South Africa have to chase 482 runs in their fourth innings to win the 1st Test. But they will be more concerned about saving the Test right now, rather than trying to win it. Mitchell Johnson rocked their chase right at the onset, by grabbing two wickets of his first two overs.
In the second over of the fourth innings, Johnson sent Alviro Petersen packing with an away swinger that totally squared up the opener. He greeted the next man in, Hashim Amla with an absolute snorter first up. The ball crashed into Amla’s helmet.
He then got the wicket of Graeme Smith in the very next over. Smith was set up — first with a couple of short ones, and then he fired one at his foot as Smith was done by the pace of the delivery. He spooned the ball into the air, and debutant Alex Doolan took a smart catch at short-leg to complete the wicket.
Amla, along with Faf du Plessis then strung a small partnership, in their efforts of consolidation after the early jolts. Du Plessis looked the more positive of the two, as Amla looked in constant discomfort against Johnson.
But their resistance didn’t last long. Peter Siddle finally got the better of du Plessis (18) in the 17th over with an inswinger which unluckily kept low for the batsman. Du Plessis would have been disappointed as he had rode the rough tide, and was looking a little settled.
Amla and de Villiers are the men at the crease for South Africa now — two men ideal for pressure cooker situations. But what Johnson and co. are employing here is not just pressure, but hostility.
Australia 397 (Shaun Marsh 148, Steven Smith 100; Dale Steyn 4 for 78, Robin Peterson 2 for 49) & 290 for 4 (David Warner 115, Alex Doolan 89; Dale Steyn 2 for 61) lead South Africa 206 (AB de Villiers 91; Mitchell Johnson 7 for 68) and 65 for 3 (Hashim Amla 22*, Faf du Plessis 18; Mitchell Johnson 2 for 27) by 416 runs.
Also on cricketcountry.com