there it is! History has been created by South Africa! Perhaps the most significant two runs ever scored by a South African in a Test, and its Amla who applies the finishing touches on a series win by shuffling and working the ball off the pads through midwicket
2.06pm And thus South Africa clinch a historic series victory over Australia, their first ever in the country. These really are stirring scenes to take in. The South Africans embrace and their emotions are palpable. After years of failure, they have beaten Australia. Smith is down in the middle, uprooting the stumps and waving to the crowd. How proud he must feel right this moment.
The smattering of a crowd cheers, the South African fans wave their flags. Look at Kallis and Boucher, who have been playing for over ten years and haven't had a chance to experience this moment. Steyn, Harris, Duminy and the younger lot walk around the boundary to shake hands with the fans. This is South Africa's 11th win this year, while Australia have won two of their last eight.
This is South Africa's tenth unbeaten series on the trot. Full marks to them. Smith has been central to South Africa's success this year with some aggressive captaincy and 1652 runs. South Africa can claim top ranking from Ricky Ponting's side if the tourists sweep the series 3-0 with victory in Sydney.
On the flip side, Ponting becomes the first Australian captain in 16 years to preside over a series defeat on home soil.Australia have not lost a home series since going down 2-1 to West Indies in 1992-93.
How often have we seen Australia suffer demoralising back-to-back defeats? The end of an era? Australia have been hit by injuries and slumps and the injury epidemic - Andrew Symonds has a knee problem and Shane Watson will be out for up to six months with back stress fractures - will ensure there are significant changes for Sydney. Australia only took 25 wickets in four innings and had very little chance to put pressure on the batsmen despite bowling on a wearing fifth day pitch.
Time for some feedback emails. "I actually have tears in my eyes! Well done to the SA lads!" says an emotional Piers. "May the ghosts of '99 rest in peace," says Egok. "Fantastic job guys. Siting infromt of my PC 4 in the morning with tears in my eyes! Well done SA!" says a proud Louis. "Well done South Africa! You played excellent despite all the excuses from the Aussies. Congratulations Champs," says Gerhard. "A lump in my throat as i watch this. Our guys have just made us proud. Our new rainbow nation with players of colour like Amla, Duminy doing well. I love it," says Nadeem. "Congratulations to South Africa! This has been the best cricket I have watched in Aus for a long time. I think they are the best in the world. They won because they are a great team who played very well," says Glenn, an Australian.
By the way, this is the tenth successful run-chase of more than 175 this year. South Africa have accounted for exactly 50% of those.
Time to head down to the post-match presentation. Mark Taylor has Ponting by his side: "We deserved to be in this position and full marks to South Africa. They won very comfortably, a well deserved series win. Things were looking good for us at one stage, but their tail played exceptionally well and Lee went down through injury. We weren't able to convert our opportunities. Lets see what the selectors come up with for next week."
And here's the man of the moment, Smith: "I've been smiling since the winning runs. Its incredible. Its been a team effort and when its come to key moment in this Test we've stepped up. JP was incredible and the self belief in the team is flowing. Its an honour to come here and beat a quality unit. We're going to celebrate and enjoy our New Years and not many of us are thinking about Sydney. After all the hard work this years its incredible to be standing here."
So many stellar performances this Test - Smith's two half-centuries, Duminy's sublime maiden hundred in just his second game, Ponting's fine double of 101 and 99 with the bat for Australia, but its Steyn who is Man of the Match for figures of 10 for 154 and his first half-century in that partnership with Duminy which ultimately proved decisive.
"Its happened so quickly. The team has done fantastically and been led by a fantastic captain. I hope I could make more runs like that but Duminy was exceptional."
Well folks, thats all we have for you. Its been a pleasure commentating on three of the past five days, and I'm sure George Binoy thoroughly enjoyed the two days he was in the seat. Thanks for tuning in to Cricinfo once again and on behalf of all of us here, let me wish each and every one of you a very happy New Year. Until the third Test, starting January 3, this is Jamie Alter wishing you all the best. See you next year!
shorter and it comes in again, he pushes it back to Clarke
spins back in and Amla drives the ball to Symonds at midwicket
flatter and quicker and he makes room to chop the ball to point
slows the pace, tosses it up, McKenzie defends and the ball sneaks between his legs
gets a short ball and cracks it straight to backward point
South African supporters cheer and wave flags down in Bay 13. Ponting furrows his brow.
thats fractionally short and he shuffles back to whip the ball away
now he flashes a drive and inside-edges to the on side
half-forward and defending again is Amla
defended straight back to the bowler
gets well forward and defends it back watchfully
tossed up and he steers the ball towards the off side
The South African players are all smiling in anticipation on the balcony. Cameras and digicams are out.
misfires and slides way down the pads, again Haddin fumbles
fuller in length and drifting into leg stump and he defends it back
more cheer from the sparse crowd as Amla flicks two off his pads
pitches wide and doesn't turn and no shot offered from Amla
Just eight more to get ...
slides down leg stump and Haddin fumbles the take
too short and Amla rocks back to flash a handsome cut through square
They've come alive, these two. Pinching singles, rotating the strike.
uses his feet and takes this one down to mid-off for a single
this delivery turns back into Amla and he blocks it out
|Melbourne Cricket Ground|
|Toss||Australia, elected to bat first|
|Player Of The Match|
|Series result||South Africa led the 3-match series 2-0|
|Match number||Test no. 1902|
|Hours of play (local time)||10.30am start, Lunch 12.30-13.10, Tea 15.10-15.30, Close 17.30|
|Match days||26,27,28,29,30 December 2008 - day (5-day match)|