Friday, November 11, 2011

Little drama as South Africa cruise to win

Little drama as South Africa cruise to win

South Africa v Australia, 1st Test, Cape Town, 3rd day

Amla, Smith tons lead SA to incredible win

The Report by Brydon Coverdale

Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla both struck centuries that completed South Africa's humiliation of Australia on the third day at Newlands, where they cruised to victory by eight wickets. If Australia thought their Cape Town experience could not get any worse after they were dismissed for 47 on the second afternoon, they were badly mistaken, with Smith and Amla adding to the hurt for the visitors.
The winning runs came when Smith, who finished unbeaten on 101, clipped Peter Siddle through midwicket and South African fans jumped to their feet to celebrate a famous victory. This was a team that on the second day had been bowled out for 96.
Hashim Amla
In doing so, South Africa became just the second team in 60 years to win a Test having been bowled out for less than 100 in their first innings; the only other occasion in the modern era was New Zealand's success against India in Wellington in 2002. They also completed the second-highest chase in a Newlands Test.
But it was the way they batted on the third morning that highlighted the ridiculous nature of the second day, on which 23 wickets fell. After a quiet first hour in which they added 31, getting accustomed to the conditions, Amla and Smith demolished the Australia attack. Amla played some wonderful strokes, straight drives, cover drives and flicks off the pads, proving that there was nothing in the pitch that could not be handled by good technique.
He brought up his century, his first against Australia, with a cut for four off Mitchell Johnson from his 126th delivery and the crowd - by that stage anticipating a South Africa victory any moment - erupted. Amla had been dropped twice by the Australians, including off the last ball of the second day, and he made them pay for those errors.
The 195-run partnership ended when Amla, on 112, slashed at Mitchell Johnson and was caught at gully by Michael Clarke with 14 runs still needed for victory. Kallis and Smith pushed them over the line with ease.
Smith was equally masterful, after a couple of lucky edges early in the day. He brutalised Shane Watson during an over that cost 13, smashing a cut for four and walking at the bowler to drive another boundary. His hundred came up with the run that levelled the scores, a single pushed past mid-off from his 138th delivery.
The South Africans batted superbly but Australia's bowlers were disappointing. Johnson collected the late wicket of Amla and in doing so avoided the second wicketless Test of his career, but he found no swing and was rarely threatening. Harris did not bowl terribly but was costly, while Peter Siddle tried hard. But they never looked like taking nine wickets under sunny skies.
Australia had their chance to break into the middle order when in the third over of the day, Amla, on 30, edged Harris to first slip, where Watson moved to his left and put down a catch he should have taken.
It was the last realistic opportunity Australia had, until the match was gone. A desperate use of the referral system confirmed that an lbw appeal from Harris to Amla was rightly denied by the umpire Billy Doctrove, the ball sailing well down the leg side, and it was just another example of the frayed mindset the Australians were experiencing after their humiliating day on Thursday.
They have six days to collect their thoughts before the second Test at the Wanderers.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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