It was inevitable that Australia's repeated batting collapses would catch up with them eventually; and perhaps too, that Johnson would find a pitch less to his liking, where batsmen had time to assess, and leave, his largely harmlessly directed deliveries.
The latter occurred first, but Elgar's 83, de Villier's 116 and Duminy's 123 were matched by Lyon's heroic 5/130 off 46 overs. From there, Australia could have drawn if they'd only batted 200 overs; which ought to have been straight-forward on a pitch offering little to either combatant.
A mere 57 overs later, with a series of angled bats and expansive missed drives Australia had rattled along to 246 all out. Time now in South Africa's favour, and the pace attack of Australia thoroughly exhausted, Amla's 127 not out took them to a declaration that even rain would struggle to thwart.
Warner and Rogers' opening stand was impressive, but once Steyn (4/55) got the reverse swing going the same flaws evident in the first innings became apparent. Haddin's middle stump cart-wheeling looks like brilliant bowling, but that is also what happens when you leave an almighty gap and go hard at the ball. Smith at least had his pad in the way.
To Cape Town then, with the series in the balance. The home side need no clearer indication of the type of pitch necessary to beat Australia; the batting is flaky in all conditions, but best with bounce and pace; the bowling - specifically Johnson - can be negated with both in absence. Whether that is what is provided remains to be seen. As fore-shadowed prior to the first test, this is a close series, but one where results may not be.
Shaded teams have played fewer than 2 games per season. Non-test team ratings are not comparable to test ratings as they don't play each other.
Idle Summers 27th February, 2014 19:26:30 [#]