Australia established a huge advantage over South Africa on the second day of the first Test in Centurion.
Shaun Marsh and Steve Smith first took their overnight fifth-wicket stand to 233, with Smith completing his century before Mitchell Johnson added some useful runs alongside Ryan Harris. Dale Steyn ended as the pick of the South African bowlers with four for 78.
Johnson then continued from where he had left off in the Ashes by dismantling the South African top-order en route to figures for the day of four for 51. The Proteas had collapsed to 43 for four, but AB de Villiers and JP Duminy rescued things somewhat with a fifth-wicket stand of 67 and they closed on 140 for six.
Nathan Lyon broke that fifth-wicket stand when he had Duminy well caught by that man Johnson for 25. Johnson then clean bowled Ryan McLaren to compound the home side’s woes.
If England’s batsmen were watching Johnson’s opening burst then they must have been thinking, ‘You see, we told you he was good!’ He first had Graeme Smith caught by century-maker Shaun Marsh off a fierce short delivery and then followed that up by having Alviro Petersen caught behind the wicket. Faf du Plessis received a scorcher of a ball, timed at 151 kph, and only succeeded in edging it to Michael Clarke in the slips.
That made it 23 for three, with Peter Siddle then joining in by having Hashim Amla trapped in front for 17 following a judicious use of a review. Fortunately for South Africa, de Villiers and Duminy halted the slide towards oblivion. De Villiers went onto notch a 35th Test half-century and ended the day on 52. Johnson, of course, wasn’t finished yet and may have caused more damage if rain had not brought and early close. If Australia can get rid of de Villiers early tomorrow then the follow-on could well be an option.
Earlier, South Africa must have been pretty pleased with their day’s work with the ball. After failing to break the Smith-Marsh partnership early, Australia would have been eyeing a total in excess of 450. However, once Smith was caught off Ryan McLaren shortly after completing his fourth Test ton, wickets flowed with reasonable regularity, pausing only briefly for Johnson (33) and Harris (19) to add 43 for the eighth-wicket. In all, the last six wickets fell for the addition of 66 runs.
Steyn was the pick of the bowlers, while Robin Peterson bounced back from an innocuous first day showing by taking two wickets, including the important one of Brad Haddin for a duck.
© Cricket World 2014