Second Test

South Africa v Australia, 2008-09

Geoffrey Dean

At Durban, March 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 2009. Australia won by 175 runs. Toss: Australia.

Phillip Hughes brings up his hundred, South Africa v Australia, 2nd Test, Durban, 3rd day, March 8, 2009
A century in each innings for Phillip Hughes © Getty Images
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A match that followed a similar pattern to the First Test ended in emphatic victory for Australia 15 minutes before tea on the final day, giving them their fourth consecutive series win in South Africa. The key architects of their success were Phillip Hughes and Mitchell Johnson. The left-hander Hughes, the son of a banana farmer from near Macksville in northern New South Wales, became the youngest batsman to score two hundreds in the same Test; at 20 years 98 days, he was nearly six months younger than George Headley when he achieved the feat for West Indies against England in 1929-30.

Hughes's often violent assault on some particularly poor bowling on the opening morning helped provide the springboard for Australia's triumph. He raced to 75 out of 119 by lunch, capitalising on the generous width he was given, as well as a surfeit of overpitched deliveries. Some of his powerful driving down the ground showed he possessed more than just a devastating cut shot. Morne Morkel suffered particularly badly, conceding six fours to Hughes in his first two overs.

Hughes went from 93 to 105 with successive sixes off Harris, reaching his hundred from 132 balls. In doing so, he became the fourth-youngest Australian to make a Test hundred. His domination of a first-wicket stand of 184 in 44 overs was such that Katich's contribution was only 59, although he did have less of the strike. Katich, badly dropped when 55, went on to complete his own hundred from 177 balls, two-thirds of his runs scored through the off side.

Although Australia contrived to lose their last six wickets for just 23 in seven overs on the second morning, Johnson quickly wrecked the South African top order with some devastating new-ball bowling as he found some inswing. McKenzie, surprised by extra bounce, fell to the third ball of the innings and Amla to the fifth, playing across a rapid full-length ball which pitched on middle and would have hit leg stump. In his second over, Johnson, hitting the deck hard at around 90mph, extracted spiteful bounce from back of a length and hit Smith on the top hand as he tried to fend off. The knuckle above his right little finger was broken, forcing him not just out of this match but also the rest of the series. It was the second time in three Tests that Johnson had inflicted a fracture on Smith, whose left hand was damaged at Sydney in January.

When de Villiers was beaten by a Hilfenhaus off-cutter in the sixth over, South Africa were effectively six for four. Kallis and Duminy put on 50 before Johnson, returning for a second spell, also forced Kallis to retire hurt, hitting him under the grille with a nasty bouncer. While Kallis went off for three stitches in a bloody chin wound, Boucher had his off stump flattened by a Johnson yorker. Kallis returned when Harris was fifth out, but lasted only two balls before clipping McDonald to short midwicket. The innings was beyond repair, South Africa finding themselves 214 adrift, although Ponting again declined to enforce the follow-on. He had good reasons for his decision, primarily niggles that his three pace bowlers had carried into the match, as well as the fact that so much time still remained.

South Africa could match neither the excellence nor the hostility of Johnson's bowling when Australia batted again. Hughes galloped to his first fifty from 78 balls, but then showed his adaptability by grafting hard over his second, which took him a further 169 deliveries. Harris, bowling into the rough outside off stump, tied him down. Ponting, however, could not be restrained, playing some fine attacking strokes, including a dozen fours, in his 106-ball 81. Once past his twin-ton landmark, Hughes accelerated to score his third fifty from 65 balls. When he was finally out, sacrificing his wicket with a declaration imminent, he had batted for six and a quarter hours, faced 323 balls and hit 15 fours and three sixes.

Left with 170 overs to survive, and a notional target of 546, South Africa battled hard, reaching 244 for two after 80 overs by the end of the fourth day on a pitch offering little to the pace bowlers once the ball lost its hardness. The second new ball, however, brought Australia the breakthroughs they needed. Kallis was undone by Johnson's extra bounce, his 93 having come from 175 balls, and de Villiers fell soon afterwards to the impressive Siddle. With his seamers sore and tired, Ponting was grateful to his part-time spinners for mopping up, North taking a brilliant two-handed return catch to dismiss Boucher to atone for dropping Kallis before he had scored.

Man of the Match: P. J. Hughes.

Close of play: First day, Australia 303-4 (Hussey 37, North 17); Second day, South Africa 138-7 (Duminy 73, Steyn 8); Third day, Australia 292-3 (Hughes 136, Clark 14); Fourth day, South Africa 244-2 (Kallis 84, de Villiers 68).

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