SAfrica need another 153 runs for victory
South Africa need another 153 runs to overturn two decades of
Australian dominance at home after Dale Steyn continued his heroics by
earning 10 wickets for the game.
Steyn, who took 5 for 87 and then scored 76 in the first innings,
backed up with 5 for 67 and was responsible for ending Australia’s tiny
chance for a series-levelling victory.
Ricky Ponting’s almost lone hand of 99 extended the small advantage
to 182 and was the only bright spot, apart from Mitchell Johnson’s
unbeaten 43, on another horrible day for the home side. Australia have
not lost a series in their backyard since West Indies toppled them in
1992-93, but if the predicted rain stays away on Tuesday South Africa
can dethrone the world champions.
Once Australia were dismissed for 247, South Africa had to negotiate
six overs before stumps and Graeme Smith did it easily while reducing
the target by 30. Smith off-drove Brett Lee’s first offering for four
and hit another four boundaries in his 25 from 19, while Neil McKenzie,
who was bowled by a Lee no-ball, made it through with 3.
While Steyn led the charge through a self-destructive batting
line-up, Ponting tried to hold things together with his second
outstanding display of the game. However, he was becalmed in the 90s and
spent 40 minutes there before chipping a catch to Smith at cover off
Morne Morkel. He left with a straight face, most supporters at the
ground were disappointed, and the South Africans knew they were nearly
After allowing the visitors a sensational comeback on the third day,
Australia suffered a horror start when their first three batsmen
departed before they had erased the 65-run deficit. Steyn captured
Matthew Hayden and Simon Katich in two overs in the morning and then
returned to knock over Michael Clarke and Andrew Symonds in six balls to
limit the recovery.
He bowled in short spells but each time he returned the batsmen were
uncomfortable and his haul, which was completed when Peter Siddle edged
to Mark Boucher, pushed him to 74 wickets for the year.
Ponting is the only great in Australia’s team playing like one and he
did his best to keep the side in with a hope of setting a threatening
victory target. However, with his partners exiting to rash shots on a
firm pitch, Ponting was battling two teams. He did the best for his
outfit and was unfortunate to miss becoming the only person to score
twin centuries four times.
Ponting had taken the side ahead 35 minutes before lunch and was the
most comfortable by far of a struggling outfit. The picture was more
promising for Australia during his bright 96-run combination with Clarke
(29), but when it ended with Clarke’s cut straight to Neil McKenzie at
cover there was more trouble.
Steyn struck again five balls later when Symonds edged for a second
time towards Kallis, who picked up a fine take at second slip. Australia
were 5 for 145 and the lead was a meagre 80. Brad Haddin could not
restrain himself and flashed at a wide delivery from Makhaya Ntini on 10
in another example of poor decision-making. Kallis (2 for 57) popped in
to bowl Lee and Nathan Hauritz and Morkel, whose bounce was testing,
picked up 2 for 46.
Hayden’s position becomes more doubtful by the innings and he started
the day wanting to attack, speeding to 23 off 28 balls with a mixture of
encouraging and frightening shots. Just as he looked to be feeling
comfortable, hitting two fours from a Steyn over, he went for another
and drove to JP Duminy at short cover. He showed slightly more emotion
than usual as he left the field.
Steyn was then able to entice Katich (15) into slashing at an almost
unreachable delivery outside off stump. The hosts were still 16 behind
when Hussey’s unfortunate match continued with him being the victim of
an Aleem Dar mistake. Morkel’s searing bouncer thudded into Hussey’s
helmet and deflected high to Hashim Amla at square leg; Dar was
convinced the ball had brushed Hussey’s glove. It missed it by a long
way, and Hussey left in a disappointed daze, rocking back his head as
Ponting shook his.