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Friday, November 18, 2011

South Africa falter in T2 D1 last session: all out 266

South Africa 266 (71ov,de Villiers 64, Kallis 54, Prince 50, Siddle 3/69) v Australia: T2/2 D1/5 at Johannesburg.

I turned in at tea, when AB de Villiers and Ashwell Prince seemed to have South Africa, at 4/213, emerging from the danger zone of 4/129 and on target for a respectable total, if not one in the region of 500, which at one point didn't seem beyond the bounds of possibility.

Graeme Smith won the toss and chose to bat on what the TV commentators assured us was a good wicket.  It soon became apparent that  the combination of small playing area and very fast outfield pointed to a high score, yet the Australian bowlers persisted and, assisted by some poor South African shot selection, chipped away at the batting.

Mitchell Johnson struck a length early (sighs of relief from Australian supporters even though he had some wayward moments later), but IMO the most impressive bowler in the first two sessions was the 18 yo Patrick Cummins on debut. He was sharp - generally around mid 140 kms/ hr - and reasonably economical.  Johnson, Shane Watson in a brief spell cut  short by injury, and Peter Siddle each grabbed a wicket  but the young man's turn came when he induced the barnacle-like Hashim Amla to edge to the slips where Ricky Ponting, belying his age, took a sharp catch.

Thereafter deVilliers and Prince steadied the ship by seeking a course midway between the caution of Amla 19/70b (3x4) and the belligerence of Jacques Kallis 54/41b (2x6, 8x4).

At tea South Africa were 4/213, de Villiers 51*, Prince 34*, and a healthy total, if not 500ish, seemed more likely, especially as Watson was probably precluded from bowling  by a hamstring injury and Nathan Lyon had been expensive.

But it wasn't to be, as the final session turned out the game on its head. I'll refrain from commenting until I've seen the extended highlights of the day's play, which commence shortly.


Update 18 November 1400 CST

After tea there was a 15 minute delay while a sightscreen (or its accompanying advertisement) was fixed. The Foxtel highlights thankfully skipped this and picked up play showing both de Villiers and Prince continuing to look for runs, usually prudently but occasionally, especially Prince, with a dash of bravado.

It wasn't surprising to see one of them fall to a rash stroke, but both in short order - Prince hitting Lyon to mid on, then de Villiers top edging a pull from Siddle (which was very well caught by Cummins) - was a surprise which gave the bowlers fresh heart. As the light, and South African resolve, faded Michael Clarke chipped in with two cheap wickets, completing a 6/25 collapse. Small beer by the standard of T1 but from an Australian perspective as good a day as they could have hoped for after losing Ryan Harris, the toss and Shane Watson's bowling in succession.

Now for the acid test: can Australia build a solid first innings lead? We shall soon see.

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