South Africa v Australia, 2nd Test, Johannesburg, 3rd day November 19, 2011

Amla, de Villiers make it South Africa's day


South Africa 266 & 229 for 3 (Amla 89*, de Villiers 70*) lead Australia 296 by 199 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

A cultured Hashim Amla and controlled AB de Villiers established a priceless partnership to take South Africa's advantage to a considerable 199 over Australia on day three.

Each were close to being dismissed by Pat Cummins in the first over after lunch, but they survived the bullets of the 18-year-old debutant and defused the other significant threat of the spinner Nathan Lyon on a wearing pitch. Ultimately, when bad light ended play early again, they would walk off happily, having taken command at a Wanderers ground populated by the most bountiful crowd of the Test.

Australia's captain Michael Clarke sorely missed the bowling of his deputy Shane Watson, rendered immobile by a hamstring complaint, and leaned heavily on Cummins, who already looks a level above the other members of the touring attack. His morning spell to Jacques Kallis was compelling, and provided cause for Australian optimism even as Amla and de Villiers showed immense poise to build a union from the uncertain beginning of 90 for 3.

What Cummins lacked most of all was support, for Mitchell Johnson and Peter Siddle in particular were unable to generate the sort of chances that their seniority and past experience in South Africa should have demanded. As with Ricky Ponting and Brad Haddin, their international careers may soon be marked harshly on this evidence.

Already 59 overs have been lost to the weather, and South Africa may be little more than another session's batting from pushing their lead beyond Australia's reach - even if the tourists manage to rid themselves of the batting horrors of Cape Town and the first innings in Johnannesburg.

Sunnier skies at the start of the day had Johnson resuming the attack, completing his opening over with a shortened run-up. The gambit seemed to be geared towards achieving a higher-arm action and a greater chance of swing, but it brought no early wickets as Australia's narrow lead was quickly swallowed up.

Cummins was much the more vexing proposition for the openers, and after Jacques Rudolph had made a fluent start he hooked unwisely at a swift short ball and skied the simplest of chances for Haddin. Graeme Smith interspersed edges through the third-man region with the occasional sparkling drive and was looking good for more when spin was introduced.

Lyon dropped onto a nice length in his first over to Amla, and then set about tempting Smith outside off stump. A modicum of rough provided the natural variation that Lyon enjoys, and when one ball bounced and turned a little more than Smith budgeted for, the airborne cut was taken in the gully.

Clarke immediately took Lyon off to try Cummins, who set about Kallis with all the venom of a genuine strike bowler. In the space of 19 balls - reminiscent of Ishant Sharma's fabled spell to Ponting in Perth in 2008 - Cummins made Kallis look decidedly uncomfortable, no more so than when one throat ball was only parried down off glove and bat handle with a fair helping of luck. An airy play and miss soon followed, and the bowler completed a comprehensive victory over his quarry when Kallis sparred at a delivery seaming away and edged to Clarke at slip.

Not content with Kallis' wicket, Cummins soon had de Villiers hopping around and calling for medical attention when a searing yorker struck him on the boot, and South Africa's batsmen were happy to see lunch.

On resumption Cummins went desperately close to removing both batsmen in the first over of the afternoon. After de Villiers presented a difficult return catch that failed to go to hand, Amla was pinned in front of his stumps, but was given not out by the umpire Billy Bowden. Australia's referral was well-founded, but millimetres shy of matching the ICC's parameters to overturn the original call.

Two overs were all Clarke asked of Cummins, before he embarked upon something of a holding operation in which he rotated his bowlers briskly in the absence of Watson and even delivered two overs himself. Amla and de Villiers attacked when they could but also throttled back at times, careful not to over-reach as South Africa had done on day one.

Lyon was partially blunted via the use of sweeps and reverse sweeps, Siddle bowled presentably, and Johnson achieved some of his desired swing from a reduced run-up. But the tourists' hopes were now heavily pinned on Cummins, who in his second spell of the session lacked some of the rhythm and energy of the morning, spearing a few too many projectiles down the legside.

Tea came and went but the skies were darkening as Amla and de Villiers resumed. They added another 38 runs against opposition that had started to look beleaguered, de Villiers advancing to swing Lyon into the stands at wide long-on and Amla showing heavenly balance to twice dispatch Johnson through the covers.

As speculation swirled ever more intensely around Ponting's future, he was brought on to bowl in dying light - to a chorus of boos, no less - and swung the ball a little. It would be the final over of a day that shaped initially towards the fielding side, but for the first time in the match ended with the batsmen very much in command.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on November 20, 2011, 11:01 GMT

    @sachinkhairnar5983 - we've done all this injury nonsense before. Zaheer Khan was the only injured player who played practically no part in the series. Every other player played at least some part in the series and Gambhir , Sehwag , Yuvraj , H Singh etc were all dismal when they did play. Every test was won by emphatic margins , 196 runs after declaring 8 wkts down was the closest India got to challenging England. Look at the stats at how the above players did when they did play and then maybe you can reassess your comments

  • John on November 20, 2011, 10:48 GMT

    @RandyOZ - November 20 2011, 04:29 AM GMT- You've actually surpassed yourself with your latest anti England comments. OK So you're going off on your own little tangent , going from test cricket which is what SA/Australia are playing at the moment and where England are actually quite good which you might realise unless you have been in a coma for the last couple of years or are seriously in denial. England are often a bad OD side and were terrible in India - no one is trying to say any different , but also just because Ireland beat Eng in the WC , Eng still went further and have since beaten Ireland in Ireland - nothing to be particularly proud of granted

  • Alex on November 20, 2011, 10:32 GMT

    @Nicholas Emcardy - the phrase spoiled for choice comes to mind, Aus does have the talent but we never agree on the slection of who's next in line and no-one springs to mind as an automatic selection. The problem currently is the talent across the board and our desire for instant success.

  • John on November 20, 2011, 10:31 GMT

    @S_African - If SA take over the number 1 ranking it will be well deserved. As for England players , If they are asked what their goal is they are going to say that they want to dominate cricket for the next decade or whatever. If SA take over the number 1 ranking they're going to say the same. No team is going to say that they just want to be number one for a short while are they? As for our imports , SA didn't want KP or Trott so it's tough for you if they chose to play for England and perform for England. You have a point with Morgan , but he's hardly a nailed on player in the test arena and Ireland don't play test cricket as far as I'm aware. The whole of our test bowling attack is English through and through

  • John on November 20, 2011, 10:18 GMT

    @DaveBrown - Yeah , kind of agreeing with you there. From a purely biased point of view the perfect scenario would be for SA to win this match and then the Sri Lankan series to get rained off. Regardless , SA are a decent side and if they gain the number 1 spot it will be deserved.Funny to see the usual sour grapes comms about England being number 1

  • Randolph on November 20, 2011, 9:00 GMT

    @whitesXI, I'll give you that he's taken wickets. But look at the wickets, none have been from good balls. He continues to bang it in too short and has been getting wickets due to poor strokes rather than good balls. And your point about him being economical is totally wrong! He went for 4.6 in the first innings of this test alone! The highest of any bowler! More than Jono!

  • Dummy4 on November 20, 2011, 7:35 GMT

    @Ohhhhmattymatty dream on dream on .

  • Dummy4 on November 20, 2011, 7:32 GMT

    Question to all AUSSIE fans: Would a lineup of 1.Hughes 2.Warner. 3.Marsh 4.Khawaja 5.Clarke 6.Watson 7.Wade 8.Cummins 9.Copeland 10.Cutting 11.O'Keefe........really perform better than the current AUS lineup? If the answer is yes........why are at least more of them not in the team? Do the selectors ignore Shield Cricket? SA in comparison have perhaps 2 batsmen in Alviro and JP Duminy who could come into the team and perhaps 3 bowlers in Harris, Tsotsobe and Parnell who could make the grade. Looking at that (and the performance of Cummins) you'd have to say that AUS seems to have lots more are just not using it! Rudolph, Philander and Tahir came into the SA team due to excellent first class performances, time to reward your players the same way.

  • Sachin on November 20, 2011, 5:54 GMT

    @all english fans South Africa will soon gain the number one ranking. And most important thing you will never got that rank again any time soon after 1980 you got it for six-seven months enjoy. Its only going to be South Africa, India and Australia. because they have new talent and will hit you very hard. Between you have only had 2 series vs India and Australia which were good due to injury to key players and transitional phase respectively. If you dont believe than watch the emerging players tournament you will saw what i am saying. but what you will do with it, import the players as early as you

  • Dummy4 on November 20, 2011, 5:17 GMT

    omg!!! these english fans take beating bangladesh in bangladesh as an accomplishment, just let them play two series in sub continent against srilanka and pak and then they will realize what is test cricket all about . They will dance on the pitch against ajmal , mendis and co .Their best bowler anderson will go for 6 rpo in sub continent conditions .

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