2 wickets in 3 balls and it’s 2-1 for Australia

2014-03-05 18:32

Australia: 494/7 declared and 303/5 declared (Warner 145 Rogers 39, Doolan 37, Smith 36*, Abbott 3/61, Morkel 1/67)

South Africa: 287 and 265 all out (Philander 51*, Du Plessis 47, De Villiers 43, Duminy 43, Amla 41, Harris 4/32, Johnson 3/92, Pattinson 2/62)

Australia won by 245 runs and won the series 2-1

Ryan Harris took two wickets in three balls to deny South Africa a hard-earned draw – and give Australia a series win. South Africa again showed the fight worthy of a number-one team but they could not pull it off.

Only four overs were left in the day when the rickety but lion-hearted Harris, troubled by an inflamed knee, took it upon himself to win the game for Australia. His first ball was an outswinging off-stump Yorker that just clipped the off-stump but had enough in the legs to tickle the bails off. The next ball, to Morne Morkel, went down the leg side but his following one was on target and cannoned into off-stump.

The euphoria of slaving away for 134 overs was apparent but it could have gone oh-so-wrong for the visitors. Graeme Smith could have had something to smile about in his last test.

South Africa began the day intent on survival and the instincts kicked in. Kyle Abbott’s promotion to nightwatchman raised eyebrows. His job was to bat for as long as possible and he did just that. He was bowled by an excellent James Pattinson delivery on which he should have tried to put some bat but he spent most of the first session keeping his bat away from anything that resembled leather.

Expected not to see out the first 10 minutes of the session, he was dismissed at 11.34am. It was a taste of what was to come for Australia, who were bowling very well.

The heroes of Adelaide, AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis, were reunited and like thoroughbreds, they warmed to the match-saving task.

Their alliance was not as mind-numbing as in Adelaide, but as long as they were there together, it seemed possible to save the match.

They were together for 18.2 overs before De Villiers, who came in when South Africa were 15/3, was unhinged by a superb Harris outswinger that was gleefully gobbled up by Brad Haddin.

It was JP Duminy and Du Plessis’ turn to man the stations and they did so admirably but just before tea, Du Plessis’ fort fell when he was trapped in front by a Steve Smith leg-spinner.

Australia would have thought they were going to run amok but South Africa had other ideas. Duminy and the battered Philander stretched the game with a punchy 73-run stand that frustrated the Australians but Duminy gave the game away when his favoured leg glance had Nathan Lyon waiting at leg slip. It was left to Philander and Steyn.

They resisted for 15 overs before Harris kicked the door down. The Australians were in and not about to get out. What an advert for test cricket.

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