Australia v South Africa, 2nd Test, Adelaide, 2nd day November 23, 2012

Smith hundred steers South Africa


South Africa 2 for 217 (Smith 111*, Petersen 54) trail Australia 550 (Clarke 230, Warner 119, Hussey 103, Morkel 5-146) by 333 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Another day, another captain's innings. Graeme Smith's century on the second afternoon in Adelaide might not have had the elegance of Michael Clarke's double-hundred on day one, but it was no less important for his side. After Australia piled on 550 in less than four sessions, South Africa needed somebody from their top order to anchor a hefty reply. That man was Smith, who finished the day unbeaten on 111, having had support from Alviro Petersen in a 138-run opening stand.

South Africa did not bat with the carefree attitude that the Australians did on Thursday, scoring at 3.23 runs per over. But that was only natural. When the opposition has such an enormous headstart, a certain amount of vigilance is required to ensure the situation does not become diabolical. The boundaries might be expected to flow more freely on the third day, if they again start solidly. They will begin on 2 for 217, with Jacques Rudolph on 25 alongside Smith.

It was a day on which the Australians discovered that the benign Adelaide Oval pitch that had been their friend over the first four sessions could just as easily become an enemy. Morne Morkel found something from the surface in the opening session, completing his first five-wicket haul against Australia to make sure South Africa would not spend another full day in the sun. Australia's bowlers toiled for little reward.

It took a run-out to break the opening partnership. On 54, Petersen pushed the ball to mid-on and set off for a run, but found himself on a collision course with his partner Smith. After taking a wide berth to get around his captain, Petersen compounded the problem by not sliding his bat in his reach for the crease, although it may not have saved him from Michael Hussey's direct hit in any case.

The only breakthrough made by an Australian bowler came through the occasional legspin of David Warner, who lured Hashim Amla (11) out of his crease. Amla played the wrong line and despite the wicketkeeper Matthew Wade struggling to grasp the ball cleanly at first, was so far down the pitch that he couldn't get back in time to avoid being stumped.

It wasn't Wade's first shaky moment. On 46, Smith, who has never been stumped in a Test career spanning 182 innings, advanced down the pitch and tried to flick Michael Clarke through leg and when he missed, Wade, who appeared to have lost sight of the ball, fumbled and lost the chance to take the bails off.

The Australians also thought they had Smith caught behind on 78, when James Pattinson came around the wicket and nipped a ball away off the seam. Smith dabbed at the ball and was given out caught behind, but when he asked for a review, there was no evidence from Hot Spot that his bat had touched the ball and the decision was overturned. They were important moments for Smith, just as Clarke had had some close calls in his innings.

Otherwise, Smith played well, leaving the ball and waiting for those he could dispatch or work through the gaps. He brought up his century from his 198th delivery, with a cut behind point for four off the bowling of Nathan Lyon, and it was typical of his innings - wait for the bad ball. Smith battled what appeared to be cramp during his innings but he should return fresher on the third day, and notably for South Africa, the team has never lost a Test in which Smith has scored a hundred.

They can also take heart from the fact that twice in the past decade, a team has lost having posted a 550-plus total batting first at Adelaide Oval - something that outside Adelaide has only happened once in Test history. South Africa's chances of victory might be slim, and not helped by the fact that Jacques Kallis has a hamstring injury and will struggle when he bats, but they know Adelaide can provide them with as many runs as it did Australia.

The Australians added 68 to their overnight score for the loss of their last five wickets and the majority of their runs came from the No.9, Pattinson, who played some impressive strokes in reaching his best first-class score of 42. He crunched Dale Steyn for a pair of boundaries through the off side and cleared the rope twice off Imran Tahir before he was the last man out, edging Steyn to Smith at slip.

The day had started on a positive note for South Africa when Morkel bowled Clarke, who added only six to his overnight score and was dismissed for 230. The rewards kept coming for the hard-working Morkel when he had Wade caught behind for 6, trying to drive a delivery that angled across him, and his five-wicket haul arrived when Ben Hilfenhaus hooked a short ball and was caught at fine leg for a duck.

Morkel's previous best in an innings against Australia was three wickets, and he finished up with 5 for 146 from 30 overs, his workload having increased significantly due to Kallis being unavailable. There was also a moment of relief and joy for Rory Kleinveldt, who claimed his first Test wicket when he had Peter Siddle caught at slip for 6. The umpire called for a replay to check that Kleinveldt, a serial no-baller, had not over-stepped, and by a matter of millimetres his wicket stood.

It was all part of a much more pleasant day for South Africa than day one.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on November 24, 2012, 9:10 GMT

    Funny to see a couple of comms from the usual , who can't find fault in the cricket who have to find fault in the pitch , just 2 days into the match

  • Richard on November 24, 2012, 2:22 GMT

    You'd have to say that the pitch is proving an excellent surface for this test. Here we are, one session in on the third day and SA are 7 wickets down. As always, at Adelaide the rewards go to those bowlers who deserve them and there are few cheap wickets. A draw is most unlikely, so what is all this moaning about the pitch? The T20 generation just doesn't have the attention span to 'get' test matches, except for a few who can see past the manufactured excitement of the shortest form and relish the extended tussle and it's many faceted nature of twists and turns. Nothing beats Test Cricket. Anything can happen from here and if SA can roll us cheaply in the second innings they could pull of a remarkable heist but the edge must still be ours.

  • Marcio on November 24, 2012, 2:08 GMT

    @ bigwonder, @xylo, simply sour grapes. So many like you come here and bash Australia, turning even the most wonderful scenario into a negative. It was absolutely magnificent batting on day one by Australia. The pitch a dust bowl? You haven't even been watching the game! There were 2mm of extra grass left on this pitch for this game! Just utter ignorance. The pitch is hiding Australia's weaknesses? LOL. The truth is that you guys are so full of jealously that it is you who have failed to acknowledge Australia's strengths. Australia have outplayed SA this game so far, and this series. How about you stop reaching for absurd excuses. You are just looking desperate.

  • Gaz on November 24, 2012, 1:13 GMT

    Must say I'm enjoying watching the No. 1 test team being mown down on this "road". It'll be interesting to see if there's a follow on or will Australia come out for some more "bullying" on this flat track?

  • disco on November 24, 2012, 0:46 GMT

    What you lot do not appreciate is the reason the scoring rate is unheard of in Test cricket, no matter how flat, is that, (and even more so with 3 down for 55) it takes great courage to do it. Especially so because batsmen not only are playing truthfully without fear, but that getting out as well would be even worse playing big because not only will they have failed but they would be deemed reckless and so on.

    For this very reason, it doesn't just put on quicker runs, it messes with the bowlers heads, they become fearful and perplexed. Clarke to his credit, picked up on the vibe, he knows his responsibility but he also knew this was the moment. This is probably why the SA fans are really annoyed because they clearly have the best top 7 by far, yet they'd never have the courage. Appreciate it guys you'll not see that again for a while.

    Amla's capable of 200 on this flat track, is he too much of a gentleman to be so crass as to take advantage of the deck, unlike those cheatin' oz.

  • Brady on November 23, 2012, 22:03 GMT

    Disappointing batting from Australia early on day 2 - they fell short of 600 which would have been the ideal total. Good bowling from the saffers.

    Interesting to see more moaning about the pitch - for the moaners, have a look at some of the past Adelaide results, it is a quite common for 3-4 wickets to fall a session on the last two days.

  • Graham on November 23, 2012, 21:34 GMT

    The blue Android are you telling me that a pitch where spinners bowl 70 overs on the first day is good for test cricket. I'm not sure it gives all bowlers a chance to ply there trade. Havent India gone into this game with one paceman. I think wickets should give equal opportunities for paceman and spinners to shine.

  • Graham on November 23, 2012, 21:29 GMT

    Anyway back to this game. Australias exceptionally high scoring rate has given themselves more time to get South Africa out. 330 runs to catch up still is a lot of runs and a wicket that will start to get worse. Australia has bowled much better line and lengths than SOuth Africa did (although Morkel did hit back on the second day). Should be an enthralling day of test cricket ahead. TO me this is proper test cricket with two very good sides going at each other and all three results possible. I love test cricket when it is played by the best playres.

  • richard on November 23, 2012, 21:28 GMT

    I find it hypocritical that certain nationalities will condem the Aussie players for so called sledging, but as soon as an aussie article appears, they cannot post a sledge fast enough. This will be a good test match pitch with a result, played by two good sides filled with quality players.

  • Graham on November 23, 2012, 21:25 GMT

    Again everyone going on about the wickets in this test series. It is the same test wickets that we served up last summer. Australians arent scared of Steyn and to be honest he has been well below his best this series. Australia also have 3 good fast bowlers as well. Clarke a flat track bully - scoring 200 in a day no player in the world can do that so it still makes him the best batsman in the world at the moment but someone try and explain the 150 he made in South Africa against this attack that everyone is still claining is the best in the world on a green wicket. Both these teams are quality and there are too many quality batsman to not take your chances. It seems to many Indians complaining about the flat wicket well i have news for you these are the same flat wickets that you failed on last year. Anyway this is test cricket at its best, looks like going deep into the 5th day with all 3 results possible.

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