Aussies stage recovery after lunch

2014-02-12 16:19

Australia: 176/4 (Marsh 67*, Smith 29*, Doolan 27, Steyn 2/34, McLaren 1/31, Morkel 1/35)

Shaun Marsh’s 50 was the cornerstone of Australia’s fight in the afternoon session, even though the runs were not coming easily. Ninety-three runs are still an excellent return against the Proteas’ bowling attack.

His innings was the tonic that Australia required after another wicket was given away, this time by captain Michael Clarke, who was suckered into a short-ball trap by Dale Steyn.

Clarke was looking his best and his innings was sprinkled with elegant drives and cuts. The short ball has been Clarke’s Achilles Heel, and he hooked Steyn to Vernon Philander at deep fine leg.

A big innings was needed from Clarke, but he failed to deliver. Fortunately, his junior batsmen were all too keen for a scrap. Despite the tight bowling in the boiling sun, that would prove to be the Proteas’ only post-lunch success.

Without giving the impression that he was digging in, Marsh moved to a 101-ball 50 that included seven boundaries, one of them a Chinese cut early in his innings.

Besides a tough chance that just eluded Robin Peterson, it was a chanceless knock and Australia’s hopes lie with him for a good total lie. He had a capable ally in Steve Smith, and the pair reached a 78-run, fifth-wicket partnership.

It will be refreshing for Australia to have Brad Haddin coming in to face an old ball with tired bowlers, but they would ideally like the set batsmen to see out the day.

While the run-making itself was not dispiriting, the ease with which they accrued singles will have Graeme Smith worried.

Big partnerships are often built brick by brick and the two in-form batsmen showed signs of wanting to go for the big stuff, which will be necessary to set up the test match in their favour.

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