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Twenty-three wickets in all, Australia's ludicrous scoreline of 21/9 and a selection of other exotic ingredients went into producing one of the most exhilarating days of Test cricket
November 10, 2011
Australia's lowest score in a century:
You've just rolled over the opposition in a little over two hours and taken a substantial first-innings lead. Time to return and pummel the dispirited opponents into the ground. Like the Australia of old. Nope. The visitors imploded to 47 all out, their tiniest total since 1902.
When the bowlers are dominating to the extent they did today, it would be natural for the batsmen to decide to shut shop and bide their time. Instead this was a day in which nearly 300 runs were scored in less than 80 overs, at the decidedly brisk Test run-rate of 3.7.
The last-wicket pair doubling the score:
Australia did tumble to an embarrassingly miniscule total, but it could have been infinitely worse were it not for the tail-enders Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon. At 21 for 9, Australia were staring at the ignominy of subsiding for the lowest score in Test history. The final wicket pair were the only ones to get into double-digits - Siddle's unbeaten 12 was enough to briefly make him one of the world's most discussed topics on Twitter, while No.11 Lyon's 14 was the top score of the innings.
Lyon's topping the batting chart complemented the fact that the man at the top of the batting order grabbed the most wickets for Australia. It had been a fairly anonymous day till lunch - Australia's tail hung on gamely for a while after which South Africa put on 49 for 1. Shane Watson was given the ball to kick off the second session, prompting an astonishing South African collapse. In a 21-ball stretch he waylaid the batting, completing one of the quickest five-wicket hauls in Test history.
An unlikely destroyer:
Coming into this Test, discussions of South Africa's bowling threat centred on the fast-bowling pair of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel. The legspinner Imran Tahir was less known, but seen as a new breed of South African slow bowler, one who attacks instead of being content with containment. The third seamer was generally pointed to as the weak link, but it was the man filling that role, debutant Vernon Philander, who ripped through the heart of Australia's batting, finishing with 5 for 15 in seven overs - not as dramatically rapid as Watson, but impressive nonetheless.
All four innings in a day:
This Test joined select company when both teams batted twice in a day, a feat that has occurred only twice in the previous 2015 Tests. The only other occasions were when India and New Zealand played out a thriller in rainy Hamilton in 2002, and when West Indies were blown away for 54 by England in 2000.
The DRS dramas:
An extraordinary nine decisions were reviewed on the day, prompting one television commentator to quip that he hoped the TV umpire was paid as much as the on-field officials. Those nine included an Australian hot streak of successive successful referrals which accounted for the big three of South Africa's batting - Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers - leaving the innings in shambles at 77 for 6.
In a match featuring two of the best fielding sides in the world, on a day with 23 wickets went down, you'd expect every chance to have been gobbled up. Instead, three regulation chances were grassed, including a potentially pivotal one from Hashim Amla off the final ball before stumps.
Like the old cliche about London buses, Jacques Rudolph waited a long time for a Test innings, only to have two turn up one after the other . With a bucketload of runs behind him in domestic cricket, Rudolph walked out in the morning for his first Test innings since August 2006. He was dismissed for 18 before lunch but got another opportunity to showcase his Test batting skills after tea, this time making 14. "It must be some sort of record. I've finished my batting and my fielding within two days - and we had rain yesterday," Rudolph later joked.
Mr Cricket's flop:
Michael Hussey came into this match on the back of three consecutive Man-of-the-Match awards in the Sri Lankan Test series, during which he stacked 463 runs in five innings, took blinders in the field and even made breakthroughs with his dibbly-dobbly bowling. Today, he picked up a duck to go with Wednesday's 1, and also shelled a straightforward chance from Amla at slip.
Another of the game's most reliable batsmen also flopped. Since December 2007, Kallis has put together a stretch of 56 Test innings without a duck, a run that finally came to an end today at his home ground, where he has a particularly formidable record.
Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Siddarth Ravindran
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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