Uncanny Test unfolds between Australia, SA

Last Updated: Thursday, November 10, 2011 - 23:38

Cape Town: Australia`s last wicket pair saved their team from being bowled out for the lowest total in Test history as both teams collapsed on an extraordinary second day of the first Test against South Africa at Newlands.

South Africa, set 236 to win, were 81 for one at the end of a day on which 23 wickets fell for 294 runs.

Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla batted with a freedom in the final hour that was missing when Shane Watson sent South Africa tumbling to 96 all out in their first innings to give Australia a lead of 188.

But Australia then collapsed to 21 for nine before being bowled out for 47 in their second innings, their lowest total against South Africa and their fourth lowest of all time. New cap Vernon Philander took five for 15 on a pitch which offered plenty of seam movement and had more pace than on the first day.

Australia had last pair Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon to thank for avoiding being dismissed for less than the world record low of 26, by New Zealand against England in Auckland in 1954/55.

Siddle (12 not out) and Lyon (14) put on 26 for the last wicket, more than doubling their team`s total and taking them past the world record and Australia`s all-time low, 36 against England at Birmingham in 1902. The previous lowest against South Africa was 75 in Durban in 1949/50.

The frenzy of wickets put into perspective the value of Australian captain Michael Clarke`s 151 in an Australian total of 284. Clarke, resuming on 107, was helped by Siddle (20) as Australia added 70 to their overnight 214 for eight.

Clarke`s innings looked even better when Watson took five wickets in 20 balls after the home side had looked reasonably secure when they reached 49 for one at lunch.

Watson struck with the second ball after lunch when the Australians successfully called for a review after umpire Ian Gould gave Amla not out after he was struck on the pad. Replays showed the ball would have hit the top of leg stump.

Four balls later Jacques Kallis was out for nought, again after a review, caught at second slip when replays showed he had got a faint edge to an attempted pull which looped off his shoulder to Ricky Ponting.

Watson made another double strike, bowling Smith for 37 off an inside edge and trapping Ashwell Prince leg before wicket with a full, straight ball before AB de Villiers became the third batsman out to a reviewed decision, lbw to Ryan Harris after being given not by umpire Billy Doctrove.

Mark Boucher was Watson`s fifth victim - with television umpire Billy Bowden again called into action, this time because the batsman unsuccessfully queried Gould`s lbw decision.

Watson fell to the third ball of Australia`s second innings, leg before to Steyn. Ironically if he had called for a review he would have survived because replays showed the ball would have gone over the top of his stumps. Ponting was leg before to Vernon Philander and Phil Hughes was caught at third slip off Morkel as Australia slid to 13 for three at tea.

It got rapidly worse for Australia after tea as Mike Hussey and Brad Haddin were dismissed without scoring and Clarke was trapped leg before for two.

Ryan Harris, Mitchell Johnson and Shaun Marsh all fell with the total on 21. Marsh, suffering from a back problem, batted at number ten and was leg before to Philander without scoring. Marsh did not field in either South African innings.

South Africa batted aggressively at the start of the final innings. Jacques Rudolph was caught behind off Siddle for 14 but Smith (36 not out) and Amla (29 not out) added an unbeaten 54 for the second wicket as South Africa knocked off more than a third of the required runs.

In keeping with a frenetic day, Amla was dropped off the last ball of the day when Hussey could not hold a slash to backward point off Harris.

PTI



First Published: Friday, November 11, 2011 - 08:41

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