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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Johnson rips through South Africa: First Test Day 2

Australia 375 (S Katich 83, M Clarke 62, A Symonds 57, M Ntini 4/72) v South Africa 8/243 (J Kallis 63, A B de Villiers 63, G Smith 48, H Amla 47, M Johnson 7/42) : First Test Day 2 at Perth.

Mitchell Johnson's spell of 5/2 (yes, that's 5 wickets for 2 runs) from 20 balls near the close of play put Australia well on top after South Africa had looked quite good chasing 375 (a total augmented by a cocky 34 run last wicket partnership).

Only Neil McKenzie of the top five failed in the strict sense, as the other four all reached the forties (Graham Smith's 48 being his highest score in a Test here). Yet none was able to go beyond 63. Solid as both Jacques Kallis and AB deVilliers were (and Kallis needed a score after modest performances elsewhere this year) their dismissals, each caught behind off Johnson for identical scores within 3 runs of each other were the crucial ones setting the Proteas on the slide from a promisingly comfortable 3/234 to a feeble 8/243.

Johnson always looked dangerous, though perhaps only he believed that he could produce that burst of 5/2. Jason Krejza's 1/102 from 25 overs was a mixed bag: a great ball to bowl Hashim Amla and break a menacing 90 run stand for the 2nd wicket, many others which were flighted well into the breeze then turned and bounced, and some rank bad deliveries.

South Africa may be rattled after their collapse, and if they can't regroup quickly they'll probably lose the match by a large margin. Judging by their performances against England and India earlier this year they should be able to do better, but whether Australia now has the wood on* them is a question which may be answered on Day 3.

* = an Australian colloquial phrase meaning "to have an advantage over someone" (source Australian National Dictionary)

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