Steyn And Tahir Lead South African Fightback
South Africa 266 (de Villiers 64) & 0-0 v
Australia 296 (Hughes 88, Watson 88)
Second Test, Johannesburg, day two
Australia continued the pattern set by both teams of collapsing once well-set as they were dismissed for 296 in reply to South Africa's 266 on day two of the second and final Test in Johannesburg.
They were racing along at 174 without loss as openers Shane Watson and Phillip Hughes both made scores of 88 but would subsequently lose eight wickets for 103 as they gained a slender 30-run lead on first innings. Bad light then ended play after South Africa's openers faced four balls from Mitchell Johnson without scoring a run or losing a wicket.
Dale Steyn delivered another endorsement of his standing as the world-leading fast bowler by taking four for 64 and was only denied a five-wicket haul when substitute fielder Dale Deeb dropped Nathan Lyon.
Imran Tahir then wrapped things up with a haul of three for 55 that included his maiden Test wicket, which came when he trapped Brad Haddin in front with the first ball of his spell after tea.
Performing for South Africa clearly means an awful lot to the leg-spinner and he celebrated all three wickets passionately as well as a fine catch he took to remove Watson as South Africa began to get back into the game.
Prior to lunch they were passengers as Watson and Hughes scored runs as they pleased. Watson played with calculated aggression and was not afraid to take the aerial route, picking off 14 boundaries and two sixes before he pulled Jacques Kallis to Tahir at deep square.
Hughes rode his luck as he was dropped on 30 by Hashim Amla and survived an edge on 38 that was not reviewed. Nevertheless, he continued to bat aggressively, albeit still in the manner of a man who has never read a coaching manual in his life, cutting fiercely and driving strongly before he tried to cut a ball to close to him and chopped Vernon Philander to AB de Villiers at slip, who did well to take the catch after he might have expected Kallis on his right to snap it up.
He had made his third Test half-century as he cut Philander viciously through point whle Watson reached his 16th half-century soon after.
Then came South Africa's resurgence and it began with Steyn coming back into the attack and almost immediately removing the horribly out of sorts Ricky Ponting, who was trapped in front for the third time in the series, this time without scoring and with his head falling over to the off side and his feet failing to give him any chance of getting bat on ball.
Michael Clarke then made 11, surviving a brief battle with Steyn but failing to see off Morne Morkel, who produced some extra pace to unsettle the captain, who edged to de Villiers having faced 33 balls.
Usman Khawaja, brought into the side as Shaun Marsh's replacement, made a circumspect 12 in 57 balls before he too departed having missed a Steyn inswinger and been rapped on the pads - the inevitable review, given Australia's position, was turned down.
No review was needed eight balls later when Steyn got enough movement to burst through a flat-footed Michael Hussey's defences and knocked over middle stump, the left-hander having made a streaky 20 in 27 balls.
Haddin was next to go having hit 16 and he too reviewed, but that exercise proved futile in all but slightly delaying the lower order having to face the music.
Siddle lasted three balls before he was bowled by his fourth as Tahir pulled out his perfect googly before Patrick Cummins (2) edged Steyn to Mark Boucher, who took an excellent diving catch in front of de Villiers at first slip as the ball died.
Lyon then slashed Steyn to substitute Deeb, who missed the simplest of chances. He was offered no chance to redeem himself as he was immediately to exit the field with Morne Morkel due to come back on. With Philander also struggling, at one point South Africa had 12 men on the field but escaped any immediate censure.
12 fielders or not, Mitchell Johnson cracked an entertaining cameo of 38 not out in 49 balls with six fours but strangely decided to expose Cummins and Lyon (2) to plenty of strike, hampering his side's chances of gaining a more useful lead. The tactic eventually backfired when Lyon was trapped in front by Tahir, who was given another opportunity to display multiple fist pumps and badge-thumping as he picked up figures of three for 55 to Steyn's four for 64.
Graeme Smith then faced four ball as the light faded and the players were taken off the field after another day in which the batting side had begun strongly but been pegged back through a combination of good bowling and poor shot selection - after the opening partnership of 174, the next best for Australia was 30.
For this series, the old adage 'one wicket brings two' might need to be adapted to 'one wicket brings plenty more' after South Africa slipped from 241 for four to be all out for 266 on the opening day despite Jacques Kalils hitting his 12,000th Test run on the way to a half-century.
© Cricket World 2011