Australia rammed home their advantage on day three of the first Test against South Africa in Centurion.
Mitchell Johnson completed his 11th Test five-fer and finished with figures of seven for 68 as South Africa, mainly thanks to a fine 91 from AB de Villiers, just about avoided the follow-on.
Whether Australia would have enforced it anyway is debatable with time aplenty left in the game. They made good progress in their second innings in any event, closing on 288 for three to take their lead to a surely insurmountable 479. David Warner smashed a century and added 205 for the second-wicket with debutant Alex Doolan.
That partnership, while not imperative due to Australia earning a significant 191-run first innings lead, was important as Chris Rogers had chopped Dale Steyn’s very first delivery onto his stumps. If South Africa were going to stand even the vaguest chance of forcing an unlikely win then they had to take early wickets, and plenty of them.
However, Doolan and Warner soon snuffed out those hopes. Warner, as expected, was the aggressor, but Doolan played a more than capable second fiddle. The pair batted through the afternoon session, adding 129 runs in 27 overs. Warner reached his half-century off 63 balls, with Doolan doing so shortly after tea off 90 balls.
The pair pressed on further in the evening session, with Warner bringing up his sixth Test ton off only 118 deliveries. He was eventually removed by Robin Peterson, caught by Graeme Smith at slip. Unfortunately, Doolan would perish 11 short of a century on Test debut when he was caught by de Villiers off JP Duminy’s off-spin.
From 243 for three, Australia didn’t lose another wicket before stumps as first innings centurion Shaun Marsh and skipper Michael Clarke put on an unbroken 45. The only question now, with two days left in the Test, is precisely when Australia will declare.
When they do so, they will again be looking to Mitchell Johnson to make the kind of inroads that he did in the Proteas’ first innings. They resumed on 140 for six this morning and it didn’t take Johnson long to notch his fifth wicket when Robin Peterson was caught off another short delivery without adding to his overnight score of 10.
Vernon Philander then kept de Villiers company for more than 12 overs as the pair put on 49 to take the hosts closer to the follow-on target of 198. Philander was eventually dismissed LBW by Nathan Lyon as Australia employed the DRS system successfully for the second time in the innings.
De Villiers himself was next to go, undone by a Johnson slower ball as he searched for quick runs with the follow-on total now passed. He was the victim of an excellent catch from David Warner at mid-off and had to trudge off nine short of his century. The last-wicket pair of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel didn’t hang around too long, with Johnson picking up wicket number seven when Morkel edged his first ball through to a grateful Brad Haddin.
© Cricket World 2014