South Africa v Australia, 2nd Test, Johannesburg, 4th day November 20, 2011

Series heads for gripping finish

58

Australia 296 & 142 for 3 (Ponting 54*, Clarke 1*) trail South Africa 266 & 339 (Amla 105, de Villiers 73, Cummins 6-79) by 168 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Aided greatly by Usman Khawaja, Ricky Ponting summoned his deepest reserves of skill and focus to give Australia a fighting chance of chasing 310 to square the two-match series against South Africa.

Ponting's 122-run union with the sure-handed Khawaja, who was out to Imran Tahir only one ball before the close, took the tourists to 142 for 3, leaving the match and series deliciously poised with one day remaining.

In an innings critical to his career and perhaps the manner of its conclusion, Ponting presented the straightest bat he has managed in quite some time to make a first Test half-century since the opening Test of the Ashes series last December. The captain Michael Clarke will accompany Ponting on the final morning.

Dale Steyn's bold striking meant the tourists required the highest fourth innings target to win a Test at the Wanderers, despite a stirring six-wicket haul on debut for the 18-year-old Pat Cummins.

Shane Watson and Phillip Hughes failed to repeat their first innings displays, both out to Vernon Philander with only 19 scored, but Ponting and Khawaja dulled the home side's offensive.

Without Steyn's 41, speckled with three sixes, Australia might easily have been chasing a target as thin as 250, after the hosts lost 4 for 29 in the morning to be 266 for 7. Cummins' remarkable efforts, adding up to one of the most outstanding debuts by an Australia fast bowler in the past 40 years, prevented South Africa from making the game entirely safe.

Hashim Amla went on to a deserved 105 from his overnight 89, but was involved in a run-out to account for Ashwell Prince and then became Mitchell Johnson's third wicket of the series. Nathan Lyon delivered another useful spell, only to be denied the wicket of Steyn via the vagaries of the DRS.

Australia's openers added 174 in the first innings, but in the second Watson allowed Philander to crash a straight delivery into off stump second ball, and after a pair of boundaries Hughes sparred at the same bowler to present a catch to Jacques Kallis in the slips.

Khawaja had begun with a pair of wonderfully crisp boundaries in Philander's first over and Ponting, the eyes of the cricket world upon him in the manner of Mark Taylor at Edgbaston in 1997 or Steve Waugh at Sydney in 2003, eluded the early shuffle and lbw that had confounded him so far on this tour. Though he was beaten by the odd seaming delivery, twice Ponting swivelled into the pull shots of his pomp. Khawaja proved equally adept with a horizontal bat, and Australia's 50 was raised before tea.

Play resumed in bright sunshine, and Ponting made hay in the company of Khawaja to frustrate the diligent efforts of South Africa's bowlers. Slowly, but increasingly surely, they met the challenge of each bowler, be it Steyn's pace, Philander's line or Morne Morkel's bounce. Tahir's introduction had Ponting scampering down the wicket almost every ball, and overthrows gifted Khawaja a first half-century in his fourth Test.

Steyn was straining every sinew in search of a wicket, but Khawaja in particular was able to pick him off for runs, and one hook sailed over the head of fine leg for a splendid six. There were the vaguest signs of fatigue or discomfort from Steyn, in a match that has tested the stamina of bowlers on both sides.

Khawaja was on 65 when Tahir switched to over the wicket against Australia's No. 3. A natural against pace, Khawaja is still learning to read spin, and he prodded uncertainly forward to edge a googly to slip. Clarke only had time to face one ball, pushed for a single, before the umpires tramped off for bad light and eventually called stumps.

The tourists had needed a rush of wickets on the fourth morning, and Clarke started off with Cummins and Johnson in search of it. Swinging the old ball prodigiously at times, Cummins maintained his rapid progress when he coaxed de Villiers into chasing one that curled away. Clarke held the catch and dared to hope.

Amla completed a century of formidable composure, cuffing Peter Siddle through point to get there, but his insistence on a short single to the right of Ponting resulted in a mix-up with Prince and the left-hander's exit. Johnson, still somewhat out of sorts, was able to produce a handy cutter that took Amla's outside edge on the way through to Brad Haddin, and suddenly Australia's position was arguably the one preferred by neutrals.

Mark Boucher swatted three boundaries before driving at Lyon and snicking to slip. He loitered at the crease partly because he also hit the ground, as well as out of recognition that not much batting remained after him. Steyn had made only five and the lead was only 246 when he was beaten by a Lyon off break and so very nearly lbw. But the umpire Billy Bowden demurred, suspecting an inside edge, and Australia's referral was refused, not for an inside edge but because the ball's projected path was not hitting enough of leg stump.

This episode felt more damaging in the ensuing overs, as Steyn demonstrated the knack for nuisance batting he had famously shown with JP Duminy at the MCG in 2008, and Philander played with the level of skill befitting a No. 8. Clarke tried Michael Hussey before reverting belatedly to the second new ball.

Nearing lunch, Steyn swung hard at Johnson and edged through the hands of Clarke, and Siddle moved the ball too much to claim the outside edge the tourists so desperately required.

Having rested up in the latter part of the morning session, Cummins produced a snorter first ball after lunch to clip the glove of Philander. Bowden hesitated before giving Philander out, but the batsman's decision-referral found just enough circumstantial evidence to ensure the original call was upheld. Next ball Cummins whirred down a yorker to wreck the stumps of Morne Morkel, thus claiming five wickets, and Imran Tahir did well to keep out a hat-trick ball that tailed away.

By surviving the over Tahir allowed Steyn to keep blazing away, and he lustily struck sixes off Siddle and Cummins. Those hits, plus a glove down the legside, added precious runs. Tahir managed one boundary himself, but Steyn eventually nicked Cummins behind to conclude yet another beguiling passage in this all-too-short series.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Meety on November 22, 2011, 0:09 GMT

    @zenboomerang - re: Ponting; I understand all that (2yrs of poor form). The issue for me (& I suspect the selectors) is that its far easier to get a GREAT batsmen up & firing - then uncovering a POTENTIAL great. If Ponting (& I know it's an IF), was to play out the next two years averaging 50+, it wuld be agreed that it would be a good thing for Oz cricket. I have huge faith in the youngsters coming thru - but how many of them could POSSIBLY average 50 over 2 years? His 64 last night was scratchy & it wasn't the Punter of old, but I have seen, (maybe you haven't?), many aging champions come back against the odds & produce. I thought Dravid was gone for all money about a year ago - he is currently holding the Indian batting line up together. Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh are just acouple of Oz examples. My gut is telling me that Punter is more like Border who went into a terminal decline over 2 or 3 yrs. I think the selectors want to know for sure Waugh or Border?

  • YorkshirePudding on November 21, 2011, 13:52 GMT

    Surely if Hughes is on notice then Ponting is in the same boat, whats his averge this series, 17.5? Australia really should be looking towards the future and not back with the likes of Punter. Kwahaja looks like a more than competent replacement for him. There are 3 places up for grabs at the moment, so an Aus team of the future is likely to be 1) Hughes/? ,2) Marsh, 3) Kwahja, 4) Clarke, 5) Watson , 6) ?, 7) Haddin, 8) Harris (Injury problems permitting)/?, 9) Cummings, 10) Siddle, 11) Lyon.

  • Randelle on November 21, 2011, 9:17 GMT

    Australia's team for the future: 1) Hughes/Warner; 2) Marsh; 3) Ponting; 4) Clarle; 5) Hussey; 6) Watson; 7) Wade; 8) Cutting 9) Harris 10) Cummins 11) Lyon

  • on November 21, 2011, 8:47 GMT

    facinating final day, result should be there, only rain can stop result, testing time for aussies batsman, if they overcome 309, they have to prove the standard, but it is difficult at the moment against styan and co under the conditions.

  • crh8971 on November 21, 2011, 8:27 GMT

    My team for NZ would be: 1 - Khawaja (just looks like an opener to me) 2 - Hughes (on notice though with Warner batting well) 3 - Ponting 4 - Watson 5 - Clarke 6 - Hussey 7 - Wade - Will take the chance Paine will miss due to injury 8 - Cutting (Young, fast and in great form) 9 - Siddle (Also on notice with Starc, Hilfenhaus etc finding good form) 10 - Cummins 11 - Lyon 12 - Copeland

    I am assuming Marsh and Harris wont be fit.

  • Nutcutlet on November 21, 2011, 7:54 GMT

    Great test match - and I'm joining the chorus of cricket lovers who wonder what genius came up with a two-test series when the quality of cricket and genuine competition is serving up the best of entertainment in SA. And the next test match is the nth between India and WIndies in this year! Oh dear - we live in cricket bedlam!

  • on November 21, 2011, 7:22 GMT

    and here in jhb forget about the sun, overcast and rain all day and believe me when it drizzles in jhb it does so for a whole week

  • Wefinishthis on November 21, 2011, 6:52 GMT

    Anyone who has Siddle or Hilfenhaus in their Test XI clearly doesn't know much about test cricket. Siddle is just as inconsistent and rubbish as Johnson, except his good days are not as good. All three average over 30 (ie not world-class) and only Johnson has a half-decent strike rate. History shows that you cannot be the no.1 test team for very long without world class bowlers and therefore there is NO point in picking any of those guys in your team. It is no co-incidence that Australia's reign began and ended with Glenn McGrath's selection and retirement (Warne helped as well). Hilditch's biggest mistake was persisting with these rubbish bowlers for far too long.

    Congrats to Cummins, he seems to be a good bowler and his economy rate was surprisingly good for such a fast bowler as well. I'd like to see him work with a combination of Harris, Copeland (who deserves a few more games on familiar pitches before writing him off), Butterworth, Cutting, Coulter-Nile or Faulkner.

  • Marcio on November 21, 2011, 6:36 GMT

    Ponting will get his century (116), and if he gets support Australia will win). Put it down as one of his best ever. Guaranteed.

  • jonnybsmith on November 21, 2011, 6:15 GMT

    Are SA and Aus really deserving to be inside top the 3 best test teams going around right now? Series has been highlighted by poor batting and with apart from some exceptions, mostly poor bowling. Aussie on the slide but SA don't look a lot better...

  • Meety on November 22, 2011, 0:09 GMT

    @zenboomerang - re: Ponting; I understand all that (2yrs of poor form). The issue for me (& I suspect the selectors) is that its far easier to get a GREAT batsmen up & firing - then uncovering a POTENTIAL great. If Ponting (& I know it's an IF), was to play out the next two years averaging 50+, it wuld be agreed that it would be a good thing for Oz cricket. I have huge faith in the youngsters coming thru - but how many of them could POSSIBLY average 50 over 2 years? His 64 last night was scratchy & it wasn't the Punter of old, but I have seen, (maybe you haven't?), many aging champions come back against the odds & produce. I thought Dravid was gone for all money about a year ago - he is currently holding the Indian batting line up together. Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh are just acouple of Oz examples. My gut is telling me that Punter is more like Border who went into a terminal decline over 2 or 3 yrs. I think the selectors want to know for sure Waugh or Border?

  • YorkshirePudding on November 21, 2011, 13:52 GMT

    Surely if Hughes is on notice then Ponting is in the same boat, whats his averge this series, 17.5? Australia really should be looking towards the future and not back with the likes of Punter. Kwahaja looks like a more than competent replacement for him. There are 3 places up for grabs at the moment, so an Aus team of the future is likely to be 1) Hughes/? ,2) Marsh, 3) Kwahja, 4) Clarke, 5) Watson , 6) ?, 7) Haddin, 8) Harris (Injury problems permitting)/?, 9) Cummings, 10) Siddle, 11) Lyon.

  • Randelle on November 21, 2011, 9:17 GMT

    Australia's team for the future: 1) Hughes/Warner; 2) Marsh; 3) Ponting; 4) Clarle; 5) Hussey; 6) Watson; 7) Wade; 8) Cutting 9) Harris 10) Cummins 11) Lyon

  • on November 21, 2011, 8:47 GMT

    facinating final day, result should be there, only rain can stop result, testing time for aussies batsman, if they overcome 309, they have to prove the standard, but it is difficult at the moment against styan and co under the conditions.

  • crh8971 on November 21, 2011, 8:27 GMT

    My team for NZ would be: 1 - Khawaja (just looks like an opener to me) 2 - Hughes (on notice though with Warner batting well) 3 - Ponting 4 - Watson 5 - Clarke 6 - Hussey 7 - Wade - Will take the chance Paine will miss due to injury 8 - Cutting (Young, fast and in great form) 9 - Siddle (Also on notice with Starc, Hilfenhaus etc finding good form) 10 - Cummins 11 - Lyon 12 - Copeland

    I am assuming Marsh and Harris wont be fit.

  • Nutcutlet on November 21, 2011, 7:54 GMT

    Great test match - and I'm joining the chorus of cricket lovers who wonder what genius came up with a two-test series when the quality of cricket and genuine competition is serving up the best of entertainment in SA. And the next test match is the nth between India and WIndies in this year! Oh dear - we live in cricket bedlam!

  • on November 21, 2011, 7:22 GMT

    and here in jhb forget about the sun, overcast and rain all day and believe me when it drizzles in jhb it does so for a whole week

  • Wefinishthis on November 21, 2011, 6:52 GMT

    Anyone who has Siddle or Hilfenhaus in their Test XI clearly doesn't know much about test cricket. Siddle is just as inconsistent and rubbish as Johnson, except his good days are not as good. All three average over 30 (ie not world-class) and only Johnson has a half-decent strike rate. History shows that you cannot be the no.1 test team for very long without world class bowlers and therefore there is NO point in picking any of those guys in your team. It is no co-incidence that Australia's reign began and ended with Glenn McGrath's selection and retirement (Warne helped as well). Hilditch's biggest mistake was persisting with these rubbish bowlers for far too long.

    Congrats to Cummins, he seems to be a good bowler and his economy rate was surprisingly good for such a fast bowler as well. I'd like to see him work with a combination of Harris, Copeland (who deserves a few more games on familiar pitches before writing him off), Butterworth, Cutting, Coulter-Nile or Faulkner.

  • Marcio on November 21, 2011, 6:36 GMT

    Ponting will get his century (116), and if he gets support Australia will win). Put it down as one of his best ever. Guaranteed.

  • jonnybsmith on November 21, 2011, 6:15 GMT

    Are SA and Aus really deserving to be inside top the 3 best test teams going around right now? Series has been highlighted by poor batting and with apart from some exceptions, mostly poor bowling. Aussie on the slide but SA don't look a lot better...

  • ali00 on November 21, 2011, 5:58 GMT

    I think Patrick Cumming going to be Australia's longest Fast Bowler like Brett Lee and who had been a consistent fast bowler for Australia. Good to see Aussie players learning from their mistakes.

  • ali00 on November 21, 2011, 5:53 GMT

    It is good to see Australia can have a man No.3 after Ponting's retired from that no.3 position and i think Australia should make Khawaja bat No.3 he is matching player and like ponting who had been good at No.3 through years. Marsh should go bat at No.6.

  • joisbalu on November 21, 2011, 5:27 GMT

    I would like to see 5 test series between these two great teams.....

  • on November 21, 2011, 5:20 GMT

    the team is playing well but pat cummins should be included in the team for the home match against nz in brisbane if not aussies will have a critical situation he is a great player and will set up a history in CA...ponting should be given a chance till summer against india !! tendulkar is playing CA should help to meet two living legends RICKY PONTING VS SACHIN TENDULKAR !!

  • James_10 on November 21, 2011, 5:18 GMT

    Hope the Aussies can get up in this one but this is not the team to lead Australia past end of 2012 season.p The team by next ASHES series should be: 1) Marsh, 2) Hughes 3) Khawaja, 4) Ponting(only form permitting, if he gets dropped then in comes Warner and put Marsh at 4), 5)Clarke, 6) Watson (I love Huss but he's coming to the end), 7) Paine (much better than Haddin or Wade), 8,9,10,11) DEFINITES: Cummins & Lyon..... LAST 2 PACE SPOTS BETWEEN: Siddle, Hilfenhaus, Cutting, Starc, Copeland

  • Percy_Fender on November 21, 2011, 4:41 GMT

    Khwaja looks good against pace. He should do well for Australia for some years. Cummins is very good indeed and should be a future great. Ponting looked like the gret of old. He should do well enough for a ouple of years at least. Hughes is no Test opener. Warner might be better.Australia will be pretty good for at least some time more even if there are no signs of new Pontings or Waughs around at the moment.

  • TheMehssiah on November 21, 2011, 4:10 GMT

    jargan83 - I'm not sure I'd go quite so far as to call 20/20 a "cancer on cricket", but what I would say is that if matches have to be sacrificed to make way for it, then surely those sacrificed should be 50 over matches rather than test matches. Both of the one-day formats are much of a muchness for me, whereas only test cricket provides the kind of drama this series has produced. As regards the game, I'm hoping Australia can take the win, if only because it'll highlight the glaring need for a third test in this series - and also because it'll probably require Ponting to get a century, and he deserves to go out on a high.

  • Marcio on November 21, 2011, 3:56 GMT

    As I stated before the innings, Ponting will get a solid century here - say about 116 runs. It will be celebrated as one of his greatest innings, especially if AUS wins. All that will be required is for two other batsmen to get a solid 50. Forget about the Day 5 thing. With the lost time, this is a day 4 pitch. Hopefully, just for once, AUS can get the better of the weather conditions. Almost every time they come out to bat clouds come over, while SA bat in sunshine.

  • on November 21, 2011, 3:48 GMT

    If the Australian selector axe ponting or he himself take retirement then its going to be a hard time for Australian cricket! the amount of caliber this guy got & current stage in Australian cricket needs his experience ,com'on guys give him some space he'll reinvent himself but this is not the way how to do it, tis guy was on sachin's heel few years back has got so many test century ! i wish he score a century - its not because i like him its because he is a great cricketer who deserve some respect for his achevement.

  • RandyOZ on November 21, 2011, 3:42 GMT

    Khawaja was outstanding. A perfect number 3, better than Marsh who should be opening. His slower, steadier style should be a good compliment to Hughes attacking play. Cummins will be the best bowler on Earth one day. He is an outstanding talent for Aus. Morkel is the biggest worry for SA, I don't think he likes coming in first change!

  • zenboomerang on November 21, 2011, 3:24 GMT

    @Meety... "I said before this match only a century will save him."... Why should it?... His form against top ranked nations has been poor for 3-4years... His record against Eng last summer was appalling... In SL he averaged just 31 on flat decks against average bowling... in SA he has scored: 8, 0, 0, 54*... Why should 1 century save him when 3 failures should warrant dropping???... North wasn't that bad... Katich way superior... With Marsh & Khawaja showing better form why keep him?... Warner showing consistency in last 12 months... Even from left field Maxwell averages over 50 in SS & is a handy spinner... There are a number of batsman in SS that deserve a chance to make a shot at national level & be there for the next 5-10 years... Ponting has shown many flaws to his batting in recent years with lack of concentration being amoungst his biggest weakness - same goes for Watson, Haddin & Johnson...

  • harshthakor on November 21, 2011, 3:18 GMT

    So characteristic of a typical hard-fought South -Australia test in the 4th innings.One of the best tests I have seen in terms of intensity of competitiveness.The pendulum continuously changed in opposite directions.You could not hope for a better or more evenly matched contest o the last day.Overall, a great test wicket .Such games keep the game of test Cricket alive.

  • Mary_786 on November 21, 2011, 2:55 GMT

    Khawaja looked great, solid batsman and should be either opener or number 3 for Australia. If he can smash the best bowling attack in their conditions in cloudy weather, he can face any other attack. Hughes as usual failed in tough conditions, he only cashes in on easy conditions.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on November 21, 2011, 2:47 GMT

    I can't believe that these two boards can settle for a 2 test match series. Is there no way now to add one more test to this series? What a shame! Next, excellent batting by Ponting. His bashers should please stay away and should stop pressurising him every minute. He is a Legend. It would be a shame if he retires or gets dropped and we don't get to see him and Hussey together fighting against Dravid and VVS. Hope Ponting gets to a century and I sincerely hope he doesn't retire.

  • MenFromMarts on November 21, 2011, 2:28 GMT

    Ponting is in fact irreplacable at the moment. Yes there is exceptional young talent at Shield level. That does not translate to Test level. I can see no reason why Ricky cannot play on to 40 years of age and the next three years have the potential to be golden. Keep patient everyone - champions are and always will be champions. I do maintain that Watto should be at 6 with a steady opening bat to support Hughes. Perhaps Rogers. Siddle is my greatest concern. Copeland must play against the Kiwis.

  • jargan83 on November 21, 2011, 2:14 GMT

    Should have been a 3 Test series - minimum. 20/20 Cricket is a cancer on Cricket

  • on November 21, 2011, 2:10 GMT

    When Top 3 - ICC test cricketing nations play each other, they should play at least 3-5 tests home and away. 2 match series is just rubbish. Hope ICC implements new rule on this.

  • inthebag on November 21, 2011, 2:09 GMT

    @heathrf1974, I'll be pleased with too mate ;)

  • chipmunk0709 on November 21, 2011, 2:02 GMT

    Wouldn't it be ironic if Punter was still at the crease with Mitch Johnson hitting the winning runs. Two of Australia's most maligned players in recent time getting oz home. Too bad that even if that happens Johnson does not deserve his place in the side as he is there for his bowling which has been very sub-standard. On a note for Australia's summer tests, we need the following team: 1) Khawaja 2)Hughes(but on borrowed time/Warner 3) Ponting 4) Clarke 5) Hussey 6) Watson 7) Wade 8) Cutting 9) Harris if fit/Starc 10) Cummins 11) Lyon. We have to give the young fast bowlers some matches b4 india come in, and lets be honest, NZ are the team to give them some easy practive abeit at test level, no debutants against India or they will be toast. Ponting to retire at the end of the summer, Khawaja to then move to 3.

  • Reece1602 on November 21, 2011, 1:59 GMT

    If Ponting can make 100 i think he might save his test career. Mainly due to the fact the Watson is carrying an injury and the rest of the top order's see-sawing form. At the moment Johnson's test careere is over unless he hits form in shield games because of Pat Cummins coming into the side. Harris shouldn't come back because he misses every second test through injuries. The main pace bowlers should be Cummins, Siddle, and possibly Starc. He took 5/39 yesterday in an ODD match against QLD. Hilfenhaus is also making a return from injury. Australia is a fantastic nursery for fast bowlers and we have a lot of players in waiting.

  • shovwar on November 21, 2011, 1:44 GMT

    Good fight back from Australia, but i doubt they can win it.....its the fifth day of the Test.....Steyn n Morkel will open up the batting line up in the morning and Tahir would clean up the tail...the ball is going to spin tomorrow...there are rough patches in the pitch there could be a major collapse tomorrow....SA have a leggie now....

  • heathrf1974 on November 20, 2011, 23:52 GMT

    I hope Aus wins and Ponting gets a ton to draw the series. I'll be pleased with that. Cummins has a lot of promise to be a possible great. Johnson needs to go back to first class cricket and work on his action (again). I hope they pick Cutting and select an operning backup for Hughes in the squad to play NZ . He is too inconsistent to remain in the side long term.

  • Meety on November 20, 2011, 23:27 GMT

    This inninngs from Ponting shows he still has the attributes to be a top class batsmen, the only question is the focus. It looks like he worked hard on that overbalancing flaw that has been hidden until recently (but always been there in his game). If he can work that out of his game & keep it fairly hidden he still has a future. I said before this match only a century will save him. His stubborness may just produce that. Get up em Punter!

  • Guernica on November 20, 2011, 23:06 GMT

    Great stuff - proper test cricket. I'm backing Aus to win this and that's coming from an Englishman. It's been said a thousand times, but so stupid that this is only a two match series - hopefully lessons learned there.

  • funkybluesman on November 20, 2011, 22:19 GMT

    I notice a great silence from all the hoard before the match claiming Cummins should never have been picked but should have been sent back to state cricket for a couple of years first.

    The biggest issue with Cummins now is to find some other bowlers to support him. You can't ask an 18 year old to carry Johnson and Siddle on his back too many times or he'll just end up breaking down. There are actually a number of decent young fast bowlers in the country, probably none have quite the raw pace of Cummins, but certainly quick enough and skillful enough. It's just a case of picking them.

    Maybe Cummins return here will really embolden the selectors to take the "risk" on a couple of the other quality youngsters going around.

    And agree with other comments here, we need to see Aus v SA in 5 test series. Of course the difficulty is that both have their seasons at the same time, so that would mean one country sacrificing a big chunk of their season.

  • maxjanu on November 20, 2011, 22:08 GMT

    This series has had everything - plenty of wickets, runs and a lot of bad light. It's great that the light hasn't stopped this match from being a result as that would have been a really disappointing way to finish an excellent test match. Another great fast bowler is born for Australia and Pat Cummins has a very promising future. I hope Australia don't waste him. If South Africa win it would be through their amazing pace, and if Australia win it will be because of the class of Australia's middle order - Ponting, Clarke and Hussey. Hussey hasn't played well this series (a rare thing to say) but he will play a massive part in this chase. Ponting won't let this one slip, I think he'll make more runs tomorrow. Good luck Australia but may the best team win!

  • on November 20, 2011, 21:30 GMT

    @inthebag There was a huge cycle race in Johannesburg today with a lot of roads closed off in the vicinity of Wanderers. That together with year end school and university exams on the go and also possibly some people boycotting the game in protest against the CSA probably conspired to lower the numbers. Really stupid timing for the test match. But still a grat game and lots of interest here.

  • Ben1989 on November 20, 2011, 21:15 GMT

    @inthebag, one of the largest cycle races was happening in SA & all the roads around the stadium were closed, most ppl thought it was a good crowd.

  • inthebag on November 20, 2011, 19:52 GMT

    I'd add to the chorus of those calling for a longer series but when they can't even get 12,000 in on a Sunday for a game like this it's really not surprising.

  • 5wombats on November 20, 2011, 19:43 GMT

    @phoenixsteve - yeah mate I'm with you on this one. Uninformed people think us Poms hate Aussies and that Aussies hate Poms back. But it's not true. It's not hate - it's grudging respect. We might not like Ponting - but we certainly have learned to respect him (mostly). We know that Aussies are formidable opponents, they know that we are formidable opponents. Thus we watch them whoever they play and they watch us in return. We don't mind if they do well against any other team. As long as it's not us.....:-)

  • JG2704 on November 20, 2011, 19:25 GMT

    Agree with the folk who say that 2 tests is not enough , especially after the seesaw nature of the 1st 2 matches. It's a really tough call from here. You'd generally favour the batting side , but couple the bowling attack of Steyn and co with the inconsistency of the Oz middle lower order and you have a great finale. If Australia do go on to win , does this signal that Australia are back on the up or that SA are at best inconsistent depite having all the ingredients to top the test rankings? If SA win , they will have to thank their bowlers for the contribution they made with the bat.

  • spence1324 on November 20, 2011, 19:13 GMT

    @Tapobon Mitra you have just summed every ashes series!

  • on November 20, 2011, 19:12 GMT

    The wicket holds the key.There are some good players who can get the runs and time is no factor.Weather may play a part.I think Morkel will have a big say.Its a real pity that these two sides could not play five tests in the series.Man of the series Amla or Cummins depends on who is the victor on Monday. A mean hard series thanks to all involved.

  • THIMMU on November 20, 2011, 19:12 GMT

    a grt series coming to a thrilling end........ as a pure cricket lover i can honestly say aus v/s sa is d grtest rivaly in cricket,whether its test cricket or odi...dey just take it to each other.... dey bring out the best out of each other.... hats off to sa nd aus!!! nd im sure indians would say ind v/s pak rivaly is biggest ,but im convinced its just hype nothing else!!... its not even close to sa ,aus riavaly,......ashes is up there!! but i still cant believe its 2 match series nd it should be given an icon staus.,just like border gavaskar trophy when ind nd aus play

    i watched the second session on 4RTH DAY of this test nd i found it more exciting than odi nd t-20.....that was pure test cricket.....razor edge stuff frm sa nd aus.!!!!!who said test cricket is on d decline????????

  • phoenixsteve on November 20, 2011, 19:08 GMT

    What a great final day this should be? I'm hoping that Ponting shows his class and silences all his critics. I find it strange wanting an Aussie win (as an Englishman!) but I think 1:1 will be a fitting result to this ridiculous 2 match series..... May the best team win. Good luck Aussies - your destiny is in your own hands!

  • on November 20, 2011, 18:42 GMT

    any chance we can get records that reflect the ENTIRE history of south african cricket history and not just since 1992? or dont richards, pollock et al exist anymore? btw i am australian and not a saffie, i just dont want some stalinist airbrushing of history

  • on November 20, 2011, 17:38 GMT

    An amazing series heading for a thrilling finish!!! Nothing can match the intense rivalry between South Africa and Australia. Wish they had more than 2 matches.

  • insightfulcricketer on November 20, 2011, 17:37 GMT

    With all the weather extremes and fading away of cricketing stars one wondered where the world is going :) However with Australia unearthing Cummins, England having Broad, Pakistan having Junaid,SA having Morkel and Philander, West Indies have Kemar and Fidel, India unearthing a couple of good pace prospect too. I can sleep well knowing world is in a good place :) What a classic test match! Ponting can now call on his juices only when a big game is on the line. A veritable sleeping giant isn't it? :)

  • cricketcritique on November 20, 2011, 17:32 GMT

    It's a shame it is a two test series.....great game of cricket and a wonderful debut by Cummins..backing the aussies to level the series...cheers

  • on November 20, 2011, 17:23 GMT

    As a south african supporter, I Want RSA to win but for the good of the game I think AUS must win. Only reason being, so that theofficals can wake up and not make 2test series.

  • rahulcricket007 on November 20, 2011, 17:22 GMT

    PONTING WILL GETS HIS HUNDRED AND AUSTRALIA WILLWIN THE MATCH BY 4 OR 5 WKTS. BEST WISHES PUNTER FROM INDIA .

  • on November 20, 2011, 17:15 GMT

    When the aussies were out for 47 in their 2nd innings in 1st test it was really dissapointing.....However they have bounced back and we cannot get to see a better test match than this......people talk about so many rivalries....Australia vs England, India vs Pakistan and so on...i am an indian and i follow world cricket and i say when it comes to Aus vs SA, it's not cricket, it's gladiator sport where both warriors fight neck to neck until one of them is dead and the other one faints in exhaustion.....really no other rivalry comes close......

  • Aussasinator on November 20, 2011, 16:59 GMT

    A see saw series and Pat Cummins has been the find for Australia and they have him to thank. It was a one man bowling show that has given the oz a chance to level the series. As for the chokers, I wont be surprised if they let the Aussies win this test.

  • teo. on November 20, 2011, 16:50 GMT

    Great game so far, coming to a good end... good to know there WILL be a result on day 5. As an SA fan, I hope the bowlers get into the tail by lunch.

  • JUUREL on November 20, 2011, 16:49 GMT

    The morning session would be the key for the south african bowlers who would look to get in among the wickets. Ponting looks like a person who is determined to prove a point, much like in the quater final world cup match against India. Steyn & co have a lesson in patience ahead of them tomorrow.

  • Peterincanada on November 20, 2011, 16:43 GMT

    A gripping finish for sure. I still think SA have the edge because given the state of Aus batting we have to be within striking distance when the fifth wicket goes down. I hope Ponting can exit in a blaze of glory. I still say we need to get younger players into the side. The middle order has been fragile for a long time. Khawaja looks good and he or Marsh really should be opening with Watson moving down.

  • on November 20, 2011, 16:29 GMT

    Awesome innings from Ponting so far and I think, he will win the match for Aussies...

  • on November 20, 2011, 16:24 GMT

    wonderful bowling by the youngstar hope oz take cares of him well otherwise he ll b becoming another harrris as der is lot cricket played nowadays ..... pointing the lengend will make his 100 tmrw n aus wins hope hussey n haddin will give a stand 2 him ,,and forget the disastor wat happened earlier!!! oz oz!!!!

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  • on November 20, 2011, 16:24 GMT

    wonderful bowling by the youngstar hope oz take cares of him well otherwise he ll b becoming another harrris as der is lot cricket played nowadays ..... pointing the lengend will make his 100 tmrw n aus wins hope hussey n haddin will give a stand 2 him ,,and forget the disastor wat happened earlier!!! oz oz!!!!

  • on November 20, 2011, 16:29 GMT

    Awesome innings from Ponting so far and I think, he will win the match for Aussies...

  • Peterincanada on November 20, 2011, 16:43 GMT

    A gripping finish for sure. I still think SA have the edge because given the state of Aus batting we have to be within striking distance when the fifth wicket goes down. I hope Ponting can exit in a blaze of glory. I still say we need to get younger players into the side. The middle order has been fragile for a long time. Khawaja looks good and he or Marsh really should be opening with Watson moving down.

  • JUUREL on November 20, 2011, 16:49 GMT

    The morning session would be the key for the south african bowlers who would look to get in among the wickets. Ponting looks like a person who is determined to prove a point, much like in the quater final world cup match against India. Steyn & co have a lesson in patience ahead of them tomorrow.

  • teo. on November 20, 2011, 16:50 GMT

    Great game so far, coming to a good end... good to know there WILL be a result on day 5. As an SA fan, I hope the bowlers get into the tail by lunch.

  • Aussasinator on November 20, 2011, 16:59 GMT

    A see saw series and Pat Cummins has been the find for Australia and they have him to thank. It was a one man bowling show that has given the oz a chance to level the series. As for the chokers, I wont be surprised if they let the Aussies win this test.

  • on November 20, 2011, 17:15 GMT

    When the aussies were out for 47 in their 2nd innings in 1st test it was really dissapointing.....However they have bounced back and we cannot get to see a better test match than this......people talk about so many rivalries....Australia vs England, India vs Pakistan and so on...i am an indian and i follow world cricket and i say when it comes to Aus vs SA, it's not cricket, it's gladiator sport where both warriors fight neck to neck until one of them is dead and the other one faints in exhaustion.....really no other rivalry comes close......

  • rahulcricket007 on November 20, 2011, 17:22 GMT

    PONTING WILL GETS HIS HUNDRED AND AUSTRALIA WILLWIN THE MATCH BY 4 OR 5 WKTS. BEST WISHES PUNTER FROM INDIA .

  • on November 20, 2011, 17:23 GMT

    As a south african supporter, I Want RSA to win but for the good of the game I think AUS must win. Only reason being, so that theofficals can wake up and not make 2test series.

  • cricketcritique on November 20, 2011, 17:32 GMT

    It's a shame it is a two test series.....great game of cricket and a wonderful debut by Cummins..backing the aussies to level the series...cheers