Johnson’s extreme pace puts Australia in the lead

2014-02-14 13:15

Australia: 397 and 18/1 (Warner 12*, Doolan 3*, Steyn 1/9)

South Africa: 206 (De Villiers 91, Duminy 25, Johnson 7/68, Lyon 2/38)

Australia leads by 209 runs

Mitchell Johnson’s seven-wicket haul gave Australia a healthy lead at lunch on day three as AB de Villiers tried to keep the Proteas afloat.

De Villiers’ knock will go down as one of the modern classics against a rampaging fast bowler. While De Villiers battled, no other batsmen got past 25 as they wilted in the heat of Johnson’s extreme pace.

The left-arm paceman may have been expensive in terms of a test-match economy, but any captain will take seven wickets at a cost of 3.96 runs an over.

It was a lesson in fast and accurate bowling that is intended to instil fear in batsmen. Indeed it felt like the throwback to the 1980s when the fearsome West Indian bowlers defeated the minds of batsmen before they even got to the crease.

Alex Doolan and David Warner swelled Australia’s lead as the home team will have to pull out all the stops to avoid another world record chase, which could be the case after such a big lead.

Robin Peterson was Johnson’s fifth wicket, fending a wicked lifter to Michael Clarke, who trotted in from second slip to collect an easy catch.

The wicket was set by the last three balls of Johnson’s first over after the resumption of play, each one destroying Peterson’s confidence in dealing with the short ball.

While De Villiers’ superb lone hand continued to be not much of a nuisance for the Australians, a 49-run partnership between De Villiers and Vernon Philander did.

It took a referred leg-before decision from Nathan Lyon to terminate it but it had inched South Africa away from the ignominy of not getting past the follow on.

They did, but the wickets tumbled with De Villiers holing out to David Warner off Johnson with Morkel not being able to survive one ball from the Australian.

He came in like the Fremantle Doctor, the cooling afternoon sea breeze which occurs during summer months in coastal areas of Western Australia, and blew the South African innings away 30 minutes before lunch.

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