South Africa 313 for 6 (Markram 152, de Villiers 69, Cummins 3-53) v Australia
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Voges: Nice to see Sayers get an opportunity
Adam Voges and Adam Collins Discuss Day 1 of 4th test match between SA v AUS.
Aiden Markram owns his style of batting: languid, fluent and dominant. Against a bowling line-up that, save Pat Cummins, lacked penetration or oomph on a pitch offering sufficient seam movement, Markram stroked his way to his 152, his highest Test score, strengthening South Africa's position in their bid for their first home series win against Australia since 1970.
AB de Villiers owns not just his batting, but also the Wanderers. After walking out to raucous cheers, de Villiers was forced to put away his aggressive template by Australia's probing accuracy either side of tea. Often de Villiers makes batting look considerably easier than it actually is. On Friday, he went the other way, struggling for timing. He diligently accumulated 20 in his first 70 balls before releasing his frustration against Nathan Lyon.
Soon, his fluency made Australia gasp. Hard sweeps, elegant drives, delicately late cuts: the usual de Villiers range. His innings was another masterclass in scoring tough runs and his fifth 50-plus score of the series.
Considering the events that unfolded over the past week, it was an unusually quiet day for Australia, literally and otherwise. The fallout of the ball-tampering chaos was at its worst on the fourth day of the Cape Town Test, and ensuing incidents seemed to have only worsened Australia's morale in Johannesburg. In characteristic fashion, though, they fought back late in the evening to prevent South Africa from running away with the Test.
Although they conceded 136 runs, Australia took four wickets in the final session. Just like in Durban, Markram was dismissed attempting a late cut after scoring a big hundred, a sign of fatigue in an otherwise glorious hundred. A thick edge off Cummins was snaffled by gully. Off the next ball, Faf du Plessis made an error of judgement, leaving a delivery that darted back in prodigiously, to be trapped in front.
Late in the day, Chadd Sayers, on debut, provided Australia with their second double-wicket over of the evening. An inducker, shaping back in off the seam, caught de Villiers' inside edge. Although he reviewed immediately, a discernible spike on Ultra Edge meant de Villiers was restricted to his third successive score in the 60s. Two balls later, nightwatchman Kagiso Rabada chipped to mid-off.
However, the majority of the day was dominated by Markram. He was patient right through his innings, waiting for mistakes in length or line, particularly for width outside his off stump. A jaded Australian bowling line-up erred often: he scored 27 of his 53 runs before lunch, more than 50%, through point.
Hitting that area was fraught with risk when Lyon bowled and extracted plenty of turn. Markram then showed off his straight-bat range, including a delectable drive through cover and an extended lofted drive over mid-on, for six.
Australia's plan at lunch may have been to bowl straighter, but that didn't work either. Square on the leg side was a productive region, as Markram powerfully flicked the fast bowlers and deftly nudged Lyon. Together, Markram scored 125 of 152 runs, or more than 80%, square on both sides of the pitch.
Dean Elgar made a scratchy 19 off 47 balls, during which he made two errors against Lyon. In his first over, he attempted to heave Lyon over midwicket, but didn't account for atypically sharp turn on a first-day Wanderers pitch. The resulting skew off the outside half of his bat lobbed over cover. In Lyon's next over, Elgar made the same mistake, looking to work the ball against the turn. This time, a leading edge carried to mid-off, Australia's first wicket of the day.
Australia's only other wicket of the second session was of Hashim Amla. Batting on 27 off 80 balls, Amla wafted at a leaden-footed drive off Cummins, in the middle of Australia's best spell of the day. An outswinger, moving in the air and after pitching, found the outside edge. Peter Handscomb, slotting into Steven Smith's No. 4 and second slip positions, took a fine, two-handed catch to his right.