Now that is what you call a turn around. Following a mediocre Day 1, South Africa drove straight through the gate and into Australia’s proverbial house in Perth on Day 2 of the third and final Test.
With Faf du Plessis ensuring South Africa had something to defend on Day 1, it was left to Dale Steyn, at his rip-snorting best, and the rest of the South African attack to bring the Proteas back into the game, and they did that with gusto.
Steyn’s four wickets, combined with two from Philander, three from a highly improved Robin Peterson and one from Morne Morkel, saw Australia bowled out for 163. To follow that up, Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla punished the Australian bowling attack by hurtling along at more than seven runs an over to leave South Africa 230/2 at the end of the day, with a lead of 292 with three days to play.
Smith was out to a fantastic catch by Nathan Lyon for 84, while Amla finished the day unbeaten on 99. With so much time left in the game, South Africa can smell a series victory. The delivery to remove Michael Clarke was the best of the series, and perhaps this is the reason why Australia offered two rather lifeless pitches at the Gabba and Adelaide before finally producing a more reputable Test wicket. South Africa’s attack, highly talked about before the series and disappointing in it until today, showed how South Africa, in part, ascended to number 1.
It’s been a wonderful series thus far, and while Australia are extremely unlucky not to be 1-0 up, the way South Africa have scrapped to get this far shows the mental strength that used to elude the Proteas whenever they faced their fabled nemesis from Down Under.
Long live Test cricket. South Africa to push on and win the game.
On a side note, Ricky Ponting’s departure from the game is a sad note, leaving only Jacques Kallis, Mahela Jayawardene, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Sachin Tendulkar as the four remaining international players who made their debuts before 2000.
Like in the Lord of the Rings, where the destruction of the ring in Mount Doom saw the Third Age of Middle Earth come to an end, once these three titans of the game depart, cricket shall find itself in a very new era.