Australia v South Africa, 2nd Test, Adelaide, 4th day November 25, 2012

Bowlers keep Australia in control


South Africa 388 and 4 for 77 (du Plessis 19*, de Villiers 12*) need another 353 runs to beat Australia 550 and 8 for 267 dec (Hussey 54, Morkel 3-50, Kleinveldt 3-65)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Zero to one millimetre of rain is forecast for the final day in Adelaide. One millimetre can be enough to save a batsman if a bowler has overstepped the crease but it won't be sufficient to rescue South Africa in this Test. They will need either an unexpected deluge or something equally miraculous from their remaining batsmen if they are to avoid defeat, and although South African sides have done remarkable things before, it is impossible to see any way out of this predicament.

Michael Clarke left Adelaide Oval on the fourth evening knowing that only six wickets stood between his men and a 1-0 series lead. Even though the Australians were one bowler down after James Pattinson was ruled out of the rest of the Test summer due to injury, the strong start provided by Ben Hilfenhaus, Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon meant the effect of his absence was significantly lessened. At stumps, South Africa were 4 for 77 in their chase of 430, with AB de Villiers on 12 and Faf du Plessis on 19.

The target never appeared particularly realistic. Smith's men have done the seemingly impossible before, chasing down 414 in Perth four years ago, but the Adelaide Oval pitch had started to break up and was providing a much sterner challenge. The highest successful chase ever recorded in Test history was the 418 scored by West Indies against Australia in Antigua in 2003, and once this target had moved into such territory Clarke was happy to declare and give his bowlers four and a half sessions to do their job.

His declaration paid off handsomely. In the first over of South Africa's innings, Smith edged Hilfenhaus to slip and was snapped up sharply by Ricky Ponting. Soon afterwards, Hashim Amla (17) also departed to an edge, his drive at a straight ball from Lyon flying to first slip, where Clarke juggled the chance on his second grab.

Jacques Rudolph at no point looked like a threat and was out for 3 when he clipped Lyon off his pads and was brilliantly taken low to the ground by Ed Cowan at short leg. And the man who had been at the other end while all of those wickets fell, Alviro Petersen, made it 4 for 45 in the next over when he played on to Siddle.

By the time de Villiers and du Plessis came together, the South Africans had clearly decided to shut up shop. Crease occupation was their only concern for the remainder of the day and the pair managed it. By the time stumps arrived, the South Africans had managed only one boundary in the past 43 overs, a remarkable figure given the tiny dimensions of Adelaide Oval square of the wicket. De Villiers had 12 from 101 balls; du Plessis 19 from 74.

It was hard to believe it was the same match that had produced 482 runs on the first day. Australia's runs also came quickly in the final stages of their second innings as Hilfenhaus (18 not out) and Pattinson (29 not out) found the boundary a number of times before Clarke called an end to the innings at 8 for 267, about an hour into the second session.

Earlier, it was Michael Hussey who kept the scoreboard ticking over. The South Africans really needed to pick up where they left off on the third afternoon, when their fast men troubled Australia's top order. But the runs flowed a little too easily for Hussey and Clarke during the morning, especially off the legspin of Imran Tahir, who continued to leak nearly a run a ball and ended up with the most expensive wicketless analysis ever in a Test match, 0 for 260.

Dale Steyn broke the 70-run partnership when he had Clarke lbw for 38, a hopeful review from Australia's captain not saving him. But the runs kept coming from Hussey, who was not only lightning fast between the wickets but was finding the gaps in the field with impressive regularity, and brought up his half-century from his 81st ball with a punch through cover-point for four.

Hussey fell for 54 in the last over before lunch when he tried to pull Morne Morkel and succeeded only in top-edging a catch to Steyn at midwicket. Matthew Wade departed soon after lunch when he tickled a catch behind off Morkel, but by then South Africa's task was already substantial. By stumps, substantial appeared an understatement.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sharky on November 26, 2012, 6:57 GMT

    This will be one of the best drawn cricket games ever, if the Proteas could manage to bat the whole day and survives. Australia were luckier to draw the first Test due to a whole day of rain. South Africa had to work harder to earn a draw. It's easier surviving a whole day of rain than to face psych-up Australian bowlers.

  • David on November 26, 2012, 2:38 GMT

    @ Waleed Tafheem. Kohli better than Amla at handling pressure is beyond a joke, and suggests you know little or are posting comments designed to create controversy. Before you make such comments, do some research - such as Amla's record in India during SA's last tour there.

  • Geoffrey on November 26, 2012, 1:09 GMT

    Love the filed placings, Michael Clarke looks like placing Australia back on number one very soon. It's been a while, August 2009. Sincerely hope that this time we don't carry on like pork chops, respect the opposition and play the game the way it should be played..

  • Harvey on November 26, 2012, 0:27 GMT

    I really hate this negative play that happens against australia. Its very rare for a team trying to save a test actually does survive a whole day.

  • John on November 26, 2012, 0:01 GMT

    @whofriggincares - I'm going to have to disagree here. Lyon has been doing very well considering but the pitches have been boring and too flat. At the Gabba they lost a day to rain but there was only a shot at a result because Aus batted so aggressively. Same again in Adelaide, what was it 450 on the first day, you could probably count the number of times that's happened in a test match on one hand. Then when SA batted Aus looked very unthreatening until Peterson ran himself out. There's a lot pressure on Aus to increase the tempo just to get a result in 5 days. The pitches are just too flat. Besides, before the series everyone was talking up both pace attacks like it was going to be an exciting match up but we haven't really had a chance to see that. I'm pleading for a fast bowler's paradise wicket in Perth this time.

  • Don on November 25, 2012, 23:40 GMT

    @valleypf Well said mate, at least Australians know their cricket history. Chavs like RednWhiteArmy don't realise that England's all too brief moment at number one was a false dawn and they will return to their default position as laughing stock of the cricket world.

  • Warrick on November 25, 2012, 23:05 GMT

    @ Jono & Meety- not saying Smith captaincy shouldn't bear some of the responsibility, of course it should, but some posts are blaming Smith entirely. I was making the point that there were other factors that contributed to the situation SA find themselves in. Namely some sublime batting!

  • Peter on November 25, 2012, 23:00 GMT

    @ JG2704. Good luck with your guys, that will deliver a message to some. Let's see how the day pans out, there is rain forecast, so it depends a lot on how thw Aussie bowlers attack. Thumbs up for the "part time: bowlers who have bowled 12 overs for 15 runs, effectively shutting one end up & allowing our 3 remaining strike bowlers leverage.

  • Dummy4 on November 25, 2012, 22:26 GMT

    @popcorn. I'll go with the exceptional captain. I'll even concede there are a few exceptional players in the side, including the captain. But this is far from an exceptional side in my view. I'm not going to single players out on the other end of the spectrum because the performances speak for themselves. Exceptional? You might say that.

  • Andrew on November 25, 2012, 21:12 GMT

    @Jono Makim - re: AB Keeping, I picked that one well before the series started. If you go on stats alone, it is more effective for AB NOT to keep wickets - assuming his ave of about 25 when keeping v career ave of 49. Dropping Rudolph who averages about 37 - for Tsolli who's FC ave is about 28 (i think) - they "lose" 9 runs in the direct swap, but gain 20 odd by AB being a batsmen.

  • No featured comments at the moment.