South Africa v Australia, 1st Test, Johannesburg, 5th day March 2, 2009

Disciplined Australia take series lead

Australia 466 (North 117, Johnson 96*, Ponting 83, Steyn 4-113) and 207 (Hughes 75, Kallis 3-22, Ntini 3-52) beat South Africa 220 (de Villers 104*, Johnson 4-25, Siddle 3-76) and 291 (Smith 69, Johnson 4-112, Siddle 3-46) by 162 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out


Mitchell Johnson was adjudged Man of the Match for his efforts with both the bat and ball © AFP
 

Write off Australia only if you wish to be called a fool. South Africa's coronation as the world's best Test side was put on hold as an Australian team with three debutants in the ranks routed them by 162 runs at the Wanderers. Each of the four pace bowlers was absolutely superb as Australia choked the life out of the South African batting before administering the lethal blows. Mitchell Johnson led the way with 4 for 112, but Peter Siddle was just as impressive, summoning up a magnificent spell that accounted for JP Duminy in the second session.

There was no dramatic collapse, as on the fourth day, but Australia's persistence was eye-catching and by the time Johnson slipped one through Dale Steyn's bat and pad, eight wickets had fallen for 85 runs. Having started the day needing a further 276 to win, South Africa lasted just eight balls after tea, with tidy, restrictive bowling the key to the Australian success. They simply blocked off the runs and waited for the mistakes.

Not long ago, Duminy had marshalled a tremendous rearguard action at the MCG that ultimately inspired a South African series win. There was to be no such repeat on Monday though, with Siddle's spell irrevocably changing the game after lunch. Accurate, hostile and tireless, he kept running in until Duminy finally fended a brute of a delivery to Ricky Ponting at second slip.

What followed wouldn't have thrilled the South African dressing room much. Morne Morkel had fallen to a poor pull stroke in the first innings, but there was no instance of twice shy here, with an ill-advised hoick at Johnson ending up in Phillip Hughes' hands at midwicket. That left Mark Boucher as the lone hope for survival, and when the hugely impressive Ben Hilfenhaus got some late movement to take the inside edge of his bat, South Africa were left to ponder a post-tea miracle.

Hans Christian Andersen wasn't at the Wanderers though, and Paul Harris deflected a Siddle delivery to short leg to start the countdown. Two balls later, Johnson finished it off to spark jubilant celebrations from Ponting and his supposed underdog side.

Jacques Kallis and Hashim Amla had started the day with all three results very much a possibility, but when Hilfenhaus got one to rear and strike Kallis on the glove in the day's opening over, you sensed the magnitude of the task that they faced. Even so, the duo survived the initial burst from Hilfenhaus and Johnson to raise hopes among the sparse crowd.

A superb cover-drive off Johnson took Amla to his half-century from 103 balls, and when Kallis flicked an errant delivery from Siddle for four, South Africa had 200 on the board. It all went wrong soon after. The partnership was worth 76 when a ball from Siddle appeared to stop a little on Amla. His click off the toes only found Hughes at midwicket.

Five runs later, it got worse. Andrew McDonald bowled at pedestrian pace, but was so accurate that South Africa simply couldn't get him away. As the pressure built, AB de Villiers attempted to turn one away off the pads. The Australian appeal was spontaneous, as was Billy Bowden's response, and though de Villiers went for a referral, it was futile.

The grip was tightening, with just 10 runs from 10 overs, and when the new ball was taken, there was another moment of drama. Johnson's first delivery with it kept low and struck Kallis plumb in front of the stumps. But as soon as Bowden's crooked finger went up, Kallis went for the referral. This time, fortune was on South Africa's side, with the replay showing that the ball might have pitched just outside the line of leg stump.

Kallis didn't stick around long enough to make much of the reprieve though. When Johnson pitched one full and wide of off stump, he went for the flamboyant drive on bended knee. Unfortunately for him, it only produced an inside edge on to the stumps. Kallis had scored just 4 from the last 42 balls that he faced, and his exit drastically reduced South Africa's chances of saving the game.

Duminy played one gorgeous on-drive off Johnson, but there was little else for South Africa to savour before lunch was taken. If the slips hadn't been so deep, Australia might even have had another wicket, as Hilfenhaus induced an edge from Boucher. Ultimately though, it mattered little, with the Australian progress to victory inexorable.

Dileep Premachandran is an associate editor at Cricinfo