South Africans complete satisfying warm-up
Western Australia 280 (Johnston 83, Heal 68, Harris 4-94) drew with South Africans 8 for 320
South Africa will enter Wednesday's first Test in a confident mood after their bowlers completed a strong hit-out in the two-day match against Western Australia's 2nd XI at the WACA. Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Paul Harris came through the drawn game after minor injuries and the only concern was an ankle problem for the wicketkeeper Mark Boucher.
Steyn fired some early shots for the South Africans with two wickets in his first spell against an outclassed home side and Harris, the left-arm spinner, captured 4 for 94 in his return from a fractured thumb. Western Australia were dismissed late in the afternoon for 280, 40 short of the South Africans' first-day total.
The 12-over workout was valuable in Steyn's first match of the tour and his 2 for 33 showed he had overcome a hamstring strain picked up against Bangladesh. Morkel, who hurt his ankle in a one-day warm-up on Thursday, and Harris also had productive spells as they got used to the local conditions.
Boucher joined the minor-injury list with a sore ankle, but is not in danger of missing the first Test. AB de Villiers, the stand-in wicketkeeper, received his first chance in the second over when Wes Robinson (0) edged Steyn and the home side was 2 for 18 following Craig Simmons' nick behind from the same bowler on 15.
Harris trapped Clint Heron lbw for 17 shortly before lunch, but he experienced some serious punishment late in the day when Aaron Heal took him for four sixes in five balls. Heal got too adventurous on the final delivery of the over and was caught near the boundary at square leg by Makhaya Ntini for 68 from 40.
It was a bright end for the home team, which relied on 83 from Matt Johnston to lift them from the difficult start. Johnston gave de Villiers his third catch when he became Lonwabo Tsotsobe's second wicket in the final session. Morkel delivered 11 overs and bowled Justin Coetzee for 12 while Ntini, the other front-line member of the attack, also captured a wicket.
Graeme Smith, the South African captain, was pleased with the way things had shaped up. "I'm very happy. Especially up until tea today, we got out of it what we wanted to," Smith told AAP. "I don't think you can ever recreate Test-match intensity in a warm-up game. It sets us up nicely."
Smith felt the bowling attack wore a settled look, with Dale Steyn, Makhaya Ntini and Morne Morkel tipped to start in the XI for the first Test. However, he said Harris will need to work hard in the next few days. "He has just got to find a little bit of rhythm and a little bit of confidence," Smith said. "He has been in a cast for three or four weeks. I guess he's the one guy who probably hasn't had any time in the middle lately.
"He bowled quite well in a little patch before tea. His control looked like it was getting there. Again it's just about confidence and I guess he has got to work on that in the nets and make sure he has got it going into the Test."