Australia’s frontline bowlers have laid the platform for an important second test victory over South Africa in Adelaide, but there’s still more work required on day five if they’re to secure a 1-0 lead in the series.
South Africa reached 4-77 at stumps on Sunday, chasing 430, still requiring 353 runs with six wickets in hand to pull off a record-breaking fourth-innings win.
But a draw would be a fine result for the Proteas. If the Australians win the series they can assume South Africa’s world No.1 ranking and all the Proteas will be thinking about is staying 0-0 and forcing a decider in Perth.
When Ben Hilfenhaus (1-23) had Graeme Smith (nought) caught at slip in the first over of the Proteas’ second innings and Hashim Amla (17) fell the same way to impressive spinner Nathan Lyon (2-15), the world’s best were officially on the ropes.
Ricky Ponting’s offspinners didn’t yield a wicket when he was thrown the ball in the second last over of the day, but his maiden over brought more cheers from the Adelaide Oval crowd than had been heard all Test.
Alviro Petersen (24) and Jacques Rudolph (3) offered little resistance, leaving it to remaining batsmen AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis and the injured Jacques Kallis to attempt a rescue mission of almighty proportions.
For South Africa to save the match, de Villiers (12no) and debutant du Plessis (19no) must occupy the crease on Monday and keep veteran Kallis (hamstring) out of the frying pan for as long as possible.
Kallis is unlikely to play in the third test in Perth, while Australian quick James Pattinson has been ruled out for the rest of the summer with a side injury.
Pattinson’s absence from the attack certainly puts more pressure on Hilfenhaus, Lyon and Peter Siddle (1-23) to produce wickets.
South Africa was set 430 when Australia declared at 8-267 in its second dig midway through Sunday’s second session.
If South Africa is to score a famous victory they must post the biggest ever fourth-innings run chase in Tests and survive another three sessions on a deteriorating pitch.
West Indies made 7-418 to beat Australia in Antigua in 2003.
Pattinson (29no) did bat and his effort along with Hilfenhaus (18no) provided a late flurry to boost Australia’s second innings.
The home side added 156 after resuming at 5-111.
South African spinner Imran Tahir finished with the worst bowling figures in Test match history, 0-260 from 37 overs.