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Friday, February 21, 2014

South Africa revive then falter in face of dogged Australia bowling: T2 D1.

South Africa 5/214 (83ov, Elgar 83/193b/2x6 9x4, duPlessis 55/126b/1x6 5x4, deVilliers 51*/126b/7x4, Lyon 23-6-47-2, Harris 18-5-36-1, Johnson 15-2-44-1, Siddle 21-6-61-0, Smith 4-0-18-1) v Australia; T2/3 D1/5 at Port Elizabeth. South Africa won toss and choose to bat.South 

At 2/11, with Graeme Smith, who had at least made a good decision to bat after winning his second toss in a row, and Hashim Amla, both out lbw, South Africa were in strife. But help came from an unexpected source - Dean Elgar - who, pressed into service as an opener, gutsed out 83 before yielding to Nathan Lyon's pressure.

 Not surprisingly Faf duPlessis and, as expected, AB deVilliers, did their bit to give South Africa grounds to hope for a competitive total on a pitch which, after the shine had worn off the new ball, played very slowly. What a competitive total might be remains to be seen. At 2/11 it looked like 150 or so; now it looks like more than 350.

A few balls at the start excepted, the conditions didn't assist Mitchell Johnson, who therefore sensibly dropped his pace a little (but not too much). All the frontline Australian bowlers bowled quite well in the circumstances, with Lyon particularly effective, and Steve Smith, not yet in the frontline category, taking the bonus wicket of  debutant Quinton de Kock, who looked what he has hitherto been: a short form specialist.

On paper Australia look to have the upper hand, but if you factor in a not out deVilliers and a pitch where runs can be scored, albeit not easily, the Test looks more evenly poised after bad light curtailed the first day. 

There may not be much in the away of fireworks in prospect on his wicket, but a tight struggle (which deserves a better crowd than on D1)   should continue. 

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