Aussies’ Mitchell Johnson wrecks Proteas

2014-02-13 16:18

Australia: 397 (Marsh 148, Smith 100, Johnson 33, Doolan 27, Steyn 4/78, 2/49, McLaren 2/72)

South Africa: 63/4 (De Villiers 25*, Amla 17, Johnson 3/25, Siddle 1/15)

South Africa trails by 334 runs after Mitchell Johnson dismantled the top order in a superb display of fast bowling to put Australia in a strong position at tea.

Peter Siddle took the key wicket of Hashim Amla, even though it was on review after the normally excellent Aleem Dar turned down the original appeal.

That left the Proteas tottering at 43/4, but the real damage was caused by Johnson and his dangerously fast left-arm slingers.

He dismissed Graeme Smith, Alviro Petersen and Faf du Plessis.

Smith was dismissed with a short ball that reared like a snake towards his face as he shaped to pull; Petersen, who was roughed up by accurate short-balls, wafted at one that was too wide and was easily caught by Brad Haddin; and Faf du Plessis was caught off-guard by one that shot spitefully from a length and was caught at second slip by Michael Clarke.

That left the Proteas at 23/3 and proved the saying that there is no substitute for pace. It was sizzling but accurate stuff from Johnson, which was followed by relentless accuracy from Ryan Harris and Siddle. They did not look like they would be releasing the pressure from the other end.

It undid the hard work done by the bowlers to limit Australia to less than 400.

At the close of play on day one, Australia were set for 450-plus, but thanks to Dale Steyn and Ryan McLaren, they whittled down the Australian batting man by man.

A spirited 43-run partnership between Johnson and Harris was an unnecessary irritation, but it was a welcome one for Australia, who let their advantage slip after an insipid early morning batting display.

After Harris and Johnson were parted, Australia’s often resolute tail folded quickly.

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