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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Australia hit brick walls as South Africa counterattack with bat and ball: T2D2

Australia 4/112 (25ov, Warner 65*/67b/10x4, Parnell 6-2-19-2, Philander 6-0-26-2) trail South Africa 423 (150.5ov, Duminy 123/231b/14x4, deVilliers 116/232b/1x6 14x4, Lyon 46-7-130-5) by 311 runs with 6 1st inns KR's in hand; T2/3 D/5 at Port Elizabeth.

It wasn't surprising to see AB deVilliers go on to make a century, but it was to see JP Duminy, whose place in the team has looked less than cemented, do the same. The pair stayed together for the entire first session adding 109 which, made Sourh Africa more secure, if not yet in a commanding position. 

Australia's  quick bowlers looked ordinary against high quality batting. Duminy took the early lead with some pugnacious strokes but deVilliers, looking very much the no 1 ranked batsman in the world, played for the most part with cultivated restraint, hitting out every so often. He was a delight to watch, not that I was disappointed to a see him, early in the afternoon session, hit a return catch to Nathan Lyon who, if he hadn't exactly troubled AB, had kept him on a shorter leash than the quicker bowlers.

JP  continued  after AB's departure, accumulating steadily without cutting loose. The 31 overs bowled in the session produced 3/90, and took the total past 400, which seemed enough given that South Africa need to force a win to remain in the series. Yet Graeme Smith seemed to want to wear the Australians, who had already bowled 148 overs before tea, down (and out). In any event the innings only lasted a further 15 balls, Lyon taking a fifth wicket from his 46 overs of hard slog (and some spin).
At that point fatigue overcame me and I fell asleep. 

It was a rude awakening later in the morning  to learn that Australia had slumped to 4/112 from the 25 overs they faced. Watching the Foxtel highlights it became clear that they were lucky not to have lost more wickets. Once again David Warner benefited from being dropped while Lyon (why was he sent in as night watchman after bowling so many overs?) was fortunate that the Proteas opted not to review what hotspot indicated was a thin edge off Dale Steyn to the wicketkeeper. 

Steyn went wicketless but was hostile, as in their different ways were the other quicks. Vernon Philander and, a real eye opener, Wayne Parnell each took a brace of wickets but the four of them showed Australia a thing or three about how to bowl on a relatively lifeless wicket,

We've seen so e impressive Australian batting recoveries in the last few Tests, but it's asking a lot for yet another one here. This Test looks lost.

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