Breaking News
Nagaland Post Logo
You are here:  Skip Navigation LinksHome » Show story
Proteas register win; stun Aussies
Perth, Dec 21 (Agencies):
Published on 21 Dec. 2008 11:40 PM IST
Print  Text Size

If Australia’s crown looked to be slipping after their 2-0 series defeat in India, it has been well and truly knocked to the floor by Graeme Smith’s South Africans, who overhauled a fourth-innings target of 414 with almost arrogant ease in Perth. South Africa’s six-wicket win was their first in Australia since 1994, but that in itself is unlikely to satisfy them. Smith and his entourage - which includes the former England coach Duncan Fletcher - will not go away happy until they have proved themselves the best side on the planet. The challengers now hold a 1-0 lead - a rarity in itself, as only one other touring team has gone ahead in Australia over the last 15 years. And if they manage to stave off the inevitable Aussie fightback through the Melbourne and Sydney Tests, no-one will be able to dispute their claim to pre-eminence. We saw a gigantic run-chase in Chennai last week, but South Africa’s pursuit of 414 was even more extraordinary. Only one team - the West Indians who made 418 for seven against Australia in 2003 - have gone higher. Home captain Ricky Ponting complained after the game that the pitch had not given his bowlers any assistance, and indeed had played better on the fifth day than at any other time. But this sounded suspiciously like sour grapes. The real problem for Australia was the lack of bowling support for Mitchell Johnson. Yes, Johnson may have been excellent, dipping the ball back into the left-handers like a mirror image of Waqar Younis, and taking 11 of the 14 South African wickets to fall. But the other three members of the attack - Brett Lee, Peter Siddle and off-spinner Jason Krejza - were little better than cannon fodder, finishing with the combined figures of 138.5-18-464-3. With an Ashes series only seven months away, those statistics should be music to the ears of Kevin Pietersen and his men. Ponting hinted at changes after the game when he said: “We’ll have to look at what’s going to be the best group of bowlers to win the next couple of Test matches.” The Australian pundits are already talking about introducing another left-arm quick to work alongside Johnson, probably either Doug Bollinger or Dirk Nannes, and ditching Krezja in favour of the more economical off-spinner Nathan Hauritz. South Africa, by contrast, have few selection worries - even though Smith did admit that he would be flying out to Melbourne ahead of the rest of the team to consult a doctor about his chronic tennis elbow problem. The injury did not inhibit him noticeably in the second innings, when his stunningly assured 108 gave his side the belief that they could really threaten this huge target. Smith is such a vital figurehead for this team. He has now scored 18 Test hundreds, and not one of them has come in defeat. Australia fought back late on Saturday evening, claiming the wickets of Smith and his batting companion Hashim Amla to throw the match back into the balance. But Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers saw out the day, and then extended their partnership to a 124-run stand the following morning - exactly the same number that they had added together in the first innings. There was another minor wobble shortly before the lunch break, when Johnson managed to entice Kallis - then on 57 - into an airy drive to gulley. Yet despite the pressure of the situation, the debutant JP Duminy was coolness personified at No. 6. He and de Villiers shared yet another century stand - South Africa’s third of the innings - to complete the job. The Australians looked shot by the end, both mentally and physically. The man-of-the-match award went to de Villiers, just as it had gone to his (unrelated) namesake Fanie de Villiers when South Africa scored their last win on Australian soil, all the way back in 1994. He posted 63 runs in the first innings and 106 not out in the second, batting with supreme poise and lightning footwork. And he showed the same qualities in taking four catches in the match, three of them blinders. The unerring fielding of the two sides was just one memorable aspect of this Test, which must go down as an all-time classic. For all Australia’s problems, it still takes something special to beat them at home. On this occasion, South Africa were up to the task.

Comments:(0) Login or Register to post your Comment
(Available for registered users only)
More News
  • 1
  • 2