South Africa v Australia, 3rd Test, Cape Town, 2nd day

Rain intervenes after Clarke passes 150

The Report by Brydon Coverdale

March 2, 2014

Comments: 168 | Text size: A | A
Kimber: And then came the rain

Australia 494 for 7 (Clarke 161*, Warner 135, Smith 84, Duminy 4-73) v South Africa
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Michael Clarke celebrates a hard-fought hundred, South Africa v Australia, 3rd Test, Cape Town, 2nd day, March 2, 2014
Michael Clarke scored his 27th Test century © Getty Images

Smart stats

  • Michael Clarke's unbeaten 161 is his second Test hundred in Cape Town - this is the only overseas venue where he has more than one Test hundred.
  • This is Clarke's 10th 150-plus score in Tests; among Australians, only Don Bradman, Ricky Ponting and Steve Waugh have more.
  • Clarke has scored 13 Test centuries as captain, which is as many as Greg Chappell got when he was leading Australia. Four Australians - Ponting, Allan Border, Waugh and Bradman - have scored more hundreds as captain.
  • The 184-run stand between Clarke and Steven Smith is the third-best for the fourth wicket in Cape Town. It's also Australia's best for the fourth wicket in South Africa.
  • For only the sixth time in their Test history, there were 50-plus partnerships for each of Australia's top five wickets.
  • JP Duminy's 4 for 73 are his best bowling figures in a Test innings; his previous-best was 3 for 67 against Pakistan in Dubai last year.
  • Only once has South Africa won a Test after the opposition has scored 475 or more in their first innings. It happened against Australia in Melbourne in 1953, when South Africa won by six wickets despite conceding 520 in the first innings.

On day one it was a test of the body, on day two of the mind. Michael Clarke brought up a hard-fought century after spending 24 balls stuck on 99, but rain halved the second day's play in Cape Town and left Australia wondering how they could make their hefty first innings a winning score with only three days still to play and South Africa yet to bat.

When the tablecloth billowed out over the mountain and brought rain an hour into the second session, the players ran off the field with Australia at 494 for 7. Clarke was unbeaten on 161, Ryan Harris was on 4 and JP Duminy was improbably on a hat-trick after claiming three wickets in the session. But the likelihood of a rain-induced declaration meant he would probably have to wait until the second innings for his chance.

Australia's best hope of victory might be to avoid even requiring a second innings. But on a pitch that remained good for batting the odds of a draw, and thus a drawn series, shortened with the loss of three hours of play. Before the weather intervened, Clarke moved past 150 for the tenth time in his Test career, Steven Smith missed the chance for a fifth Test hundred and South Africa continued to struggle without the injured Dale Steyn.

Duminy finished the day with 4 for 73, including three wickets after lunch as the Australians sought to lift their run-rate following the strong start provided by the top order. For the first time since the Boxing Day Test of 2009 against Pakistan, Australia began a Test innings with five consecutive partnerships of 50-plus as South Africa initially continued their unwanted trend of managing only one wicket per session.

In his first innings of the series, Shane Watson made his intentions clear by striking three sixes in a 32-ball 40 but he departed when he tried to go over the top once too often, holing out to long-off from the bowling of Duminy. Brad Haddin (13) also chipped a catch to mid-off off Duminy and next ball Mitchell Johnson was out on review when South Africa asked for a replay and found he had tickled a catch down leg side.

However, that was the last ball of Duminy's over and the rain arrived before he had the chance to push for a hat-trick, leaving him wondering whether he could become only the second South African after Geoff Griffin in 1960 to achieve the feat. Duminy's wickets were too late to have any real impact, though, and the morning was all about Clarke and his desire to reach triple figures after surviving a bouncer barrage from Morne Morkel on Saturday.

Clarke began the morning on 92 but took nearly 50 minutes to reach his hundred as Kyle Abbott tied him down with disciplined bowling after he moved with one run of the milestone. On 99, Clarke faced 23 deliveries from Abbott and one from Philander before he finally brought up his century with a drive to the cover boundary when Philander over-pitched, ending a nervous period that featured a few aborted run attempts - and near run-outs - and a couple of edgy wafts.

There was also a leave to an Abbott delivery that fizzed just over the top of the stumps; having not scored a hundred since the Adelaide Ashes Test, Clarke seemed as nervy as a man trying for his first, not his 27th. After he reached the hundred the runs started to come a little more freely and he played a couple of superb cover-drives off Abbott, and moved past 150 with another boundary pulled through midwicket off Abbott.

It was Smith who had done most of the scoring while Clarke was in the nervous nineties. Of particular note was Smith's aerial driving down the ground against the fast men - he cleared the boundary off both Philander and Morkel but there was little risk involved in the strokes as he struck the ball cleanly and followed through perfectly down the line. His 184-run stand with Clarke ended when he played on to a skiddy ball from Dean Elgar on 84.

That Elgar and Duminy, both part-time spinners, were South Africa's only wicket takers on the second day, was notable. Hamstrung by Steyn's hamstring strain, Graeme Smith had to rotate through the bowlers as best he could but their spearhead was sorely missed. Steyn did not take the field at all on day two, although he was considered an outside chance of bowling in Australia's second innings. South Africa just have to make sure there is one.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by   on (March 3, 2014, 10:59 GMT)

Obviously it is all Australia. SA's may have decided to go with an attacking strategy up front - didnt work. Doesnt matter how entertaining some of the batting was - 4 are back in the shed. Ball is starting to reverse swing....and we have a long tail Unless JP, Faf and AB do some solid batting, we may be sent in again a second time today. That would be really bad form for the No.1 team at what is supposed to be a 'happy hunting ground'. Go back to Warners century (and the surrounding partnerships) and you realise even more what an important and great innings that was in creating the foundation from which Australia could work from.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (March 3, 2014, 10:56 GMT)

Scott Davey; Think you jumped the gun there after one shot, now your comment is logged for everyone to see your stupidity. Harris showing why he averages 23 in test cricket and absolute class act. Im not going to make any predictions on who is the best attack but it is funny the South African outrage at Australia being labelled the best attack in the world after the second test because they didnt have the ability to bowl on all surfaces looks a bit funny now. Both bowling attacks are great and I don't blame Mcdermott and Siddle for having the confidence in our attack to label it the best. At the moment there comment doesn't look to be that silly.

Posted by dunger.bob on (March 3, 2014, 10:44 GMT)

That's lunch. 4/121. Australia on top. Amla gone. AB still standing. .. Couldn't be tenser.

Posted by android_user on (March 3, 2014, 10:20 GMT)

Amla treating Harris like a bowling machine AGAIN

Posted by xtrafalgarx on (March 3, 2014, 10:18 GMT)

Harris finally showing his class, there it is. What a bowler.

Posted by Biggus on (March 3, 2014, 10:15 GMT)

Compelling cricket, Amla and ABDeV look wonderful and apart from Harris our guys are all over the shop.

Posted by android_user on (March 3, 2014, 10:06 GMT)

why is Graeme Smith still in this squad, he hasn't scored in yearsneeds to deserve his spot not just be given it

Posted by xtrafalgarx on (March 3, 2014, 10:01 GMT)

Graeme Smith is not a patch on Clarke as a batsman and as a captain.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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