Dale Steyn ripped the heart out of Australia’s batting in the late afternoon and part-time spinner Dean Elgar took the final wicket in the day’s last over in the early evening to give South Africa a series-leveling 231-run victory in the second test on Sunday.
Australia could have been moments from a draw if the forecasts of persistent rain through the final day on Monday are realised. A draw would have ensured it couldn’t lose the series.
The fourth day went past 6 p.m. local time and offered late drama after umpires gave South Africa the extra 30 minutes to seal a result. Chris Rogers was then run out by a direct hit from substitute fielder Alviro Petersen for 107 in the second last over after he looked like taking Australia to the final day, when the weather might have come to its rescue.
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Elgar had last man Nathan Lyon lbw for a duck with two balls to go in the day after the umpires had ruled the fading light wasn’t good enough for Steyn to bowl. TV replays also suggested Lyon hit the ball and shouldn’t have been given out but Australia had no decision reviews left.
Ultimately, Steyn removed the weather equation with 4-55 as Australia was bowled out for 216 in a little over two sessions facing a target of 448, giving top-ranked South Africa a big victory and revenge for its 281-run humbling in the first test.
“I don’t think many teams would have been able to respond like we did from that defeat,’’ South Africa captain Graeme Smith said.
Smith insisted he believed there would have still been enough time for South Africa to clinch victory on the last day, but it was a hectic finish to the test as Australia lost a stunning 10 wickets for just 90 runs, starting when David Warner was out for 66 to break an opening partnership of 126 with Rogers.
“We were outplayed with both bat and ball throughout this test match,’’ Australia captain Michael Clarke said.
The end came quickly on Sunday after Australia had started its second innings so positively with Warner and Rogers.
With Australia already toppling at 153-3, the momentum swung convincingly when Steyn removed Clarke and Steve Smith in successive deliveries and smashed over Brad Haddin’s middle stump in a three-over burst of pace and deadly reverse swing. When a fired-up Steyn blasted out Haddin’s middle peg for the second time in the match, he ended his trademark downward fist pumping celebration by pointing at the stump lying prone on the ground.
‘Angry, very angry, extremely angry’
“His anger goes from very angry to extremely angry,’’ Smith said of his bowling spearhead.
Australia eventually collapsed from 126-0 to 216 all out, sending the series to a deciding test in Cape Town with the momentum now with South Africa. “It was only seven days ago we were playing fantastic cricket,’’ Clarke said. “I’m not too concerned, to be honest.’’
Brief scores: South Africa 423 & 270/5 dec (H Amla 127*, Q de Kock 34; M Johnson 2/51, P Siddle 2/89 beat Australia 246 & 216 all out (C Rogers 107, D Warner 66; D Steyn 4/55, V Philander 2/39) by 231 runs