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Friday, December 19, 2008

South Africa keep fighting but still look likely to lose: Second Test Day 3

Australia 375 and 7/228 (B Haddin 39 no,J Kallis 2/19) lead South Africa 281 (M Johnson 8/61) by 322 runs with 3 second innings wickets in hand: Second Test Day 3 at Perth.

South Africa were able to refocus after the previous day's late collapse, but the damage which Mitchell Johnson did then looks too much to prevent an Australian victory. Johnson took one of the two wickets on offer today as Mark Boucher and nos 10 and 11 showed more guts and determination than some of their teammates had to add a further 38 runs. Johnson finished with 8/61 from 24 overs, one of the best ever bowling performances by an Australian (and achieved against good opposition).

Australia's second innings began better than its first did, even though Matthew Hayden (given out caught by the umpire when replays showed he hadn't hit the ball) and Mike Hussey failed again. Brett Lee also failed to reach double figures, but each of the other six made between 25 and 39. Not good scores but enough, together with the 94 first innings lead, to put Australia well in front.

The South African bowlers kept plugging away. Jacques Kallis (2/19 from 11 overs), Dale Steyn and Paul Harris each took 2 wickets. Graeme Smith kept the pressure on, but I felt that he could have bowled Morne Morkel for more than 11 economical overs. Once again A B deVilliers was outstanding in the field: his slip catch of Lee off Kallis was unbelievable (look for it on YouTube). At the end of today the Proteas could hold their heads higher than yesterday, but it will take an even greater improvement, including at least one century, if they are to win from here.

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