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Amla and De Villiers put South Africa in a winning position

November 20, 2011

Also published at: http://thecover-drive.blogspot.com/2011/11/test-updates_19.html

The third day of second and final test in Johannesburg saw South Africa gained a stranglehold as they moved to 3 for 229, to establish a lead of 199 over Australia. With two full days ahead, South Africa is in the box seat to win and close out the series two nil.

It all seemed so different in the first session of this topsy turvy match, with South Africa going into lunch rattled at 3 for 94. Bad light saw the day finish early yesterday, with South Africa beginning the day on 0 for 0 after 0.4 over’s. Jacques Rudolph was in punishing form early on, taking on the opening bowlers of Mitchell Johnson (on a shortened run-up) and debutant 18 year old Pat Cummins. However, after early success, it went to his head and he skied an attempted pull shot of Cummins that was outside off stump and it fell straight to Haddin, with him making his 24 runs off just 23 balls.

 

Hashim Amla joined Smith at the crease and they both looked relatively comfortable in advancing the score to 75, before Nathan Lyon, in just his third over, bowled a shortish ball which had more bounce than Smith expected and he edged it to Hughes at point for an easy catch.

At 2 for 75 and Kallis at the crease, the game looked in the balance. Pat Cummins then entered for his second spell and what a spell it was. Kallis never looked comfortable as Cummins bowled a very quick line just outside off stump and floored Kallis a few times with very well placed bouncers. Kallis, seemingly frustrated at being outplayed by a fresh 18 year old, went fishing outside off to a quick Cummins delivery and it flew straight to Clarke at first slip for an easy catch.

After coming out from Lunch, the momentum seemed to continue to be with Australia with Cummins put down a catch of his own bowling from AB De Villiers. The same over Australia saw Cummings beat Amla and he was struck in front. After the umpire turned down their appeal, Australia went for a review Hawkeye showed the ball hitting the bails, which wasn’t enough to overturn the umpire’s decision.

This in retrospect was the turning point as afterwards Amla and AB de Villiers asserting their control afterwards for the rest of the day, playing some wonderful attacking cricket. Both were attempting outlandish reverse sweeps but this was outdone by some beautiful drives and cuts, with them barely given away a chance for the rest of the day. Both of them reached their fifties and made it through to tea, with the score reaching 3 for 191.

Australia really began to feel the loss of Shane Watson as a bowler. Watson, who had been used to such devastating effect in the first test match, hurt his hamstring bowling in South Africa’s first innings. Instead of Watson, Clarke had to turn to Mike Hussey and himself as the collective fifth bowler to try and break up Amla and De Villiers to very little affect. All of the problems were compounded by Johnson continuing to struggle with the ball. Johnson, himself, evidently felt the pressure and let loose by throwing the ball at the stumps, where De Villiers was standing. Johnson was roundly booed by the crowd. There was also a reluctance to bowl Nathan Lyon, despite him taking a wicket, showing that he still has a way to go before he establishes himself in the test team.

The third session began in much the same vein as the second, with de Villiers charging down the wicket and smashed over long on for six. Siddle bowled honestly without looking too dangerous, Johnson continued to be lackluster and de Villiers and Amra continued to compile runs, in what seems to be a match winning partnership. At one stage, Amra smacked Johnson for three fours in an over, including two beautiful cover drives, which seemingly summarized the afternoon. Or maybe that was when Clarke turned to Ponting’s medium pacers to try and break up the partnership, in what turned out to be the last over of the day, as bad light again cut the day short. As the Australian players trudged off looking deflated and dejected, a few players, namely Ponting, Haddin and Johnson must have had thoughts flash across their mind that this could well be the last test match they ever play.

Tomorrow will resume with Amla on 84 and De Villiers on 67, with much work for the Australian attack to do.

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