The day ends evenly poised
by CricketArchive Staff Reporter

Event:South Africa in Australia 2008/09

DateLine: 4th January 2009


The second day saw Australia showing the never say die attitude that had helped them to rule the cricket world for a decade. Clarke and Johnson began the day grinding against a determined South African attack. Both the batsmen put a value on their wicket and held on firm to extend the score beyond the 400 run mark. They were helped along by a resilient tail, poor catching, unimaginative bowling and also the luck factor that has eluded them for sometime.


Michael Clarke's tenth Test hundred and his first at his home ground, along with some vigorous tail-wagging, guided Australia to their highest total of the series as they took the upper hand against South Africa. Clarke's 138 and Mitchell Johnson's 64 were the highlights of a productive first two sessions for Australia, who dominated thoroughly having struggled with the bat on the first day. The outstanding 142-run stand between Johnson and Clarke guided Australia through to lunch with no loss and Nathan Hauritz and Peter Siddle added to South Africa's woes after the break. The final four pairs combined for 208 and it was reminiscent of the third day in Melbourne, when JP Duminy and South Africa's lower order battled hard to gain the upper hand . This time Clarke was cast in the Duminy role and he took full advantage of the life he was offered late on the first afternoon when he was put down on 69 by Hashim Amla.


Clarke was in great form and used his feet effectively against the spin of Paul Harris. He brought up his first Test century at his home ground with a hasty single to mid-on and he set off in celebration even as the third umpire was consulted to see if the direct hit had caught him short. It was an innings that would do wonders for Clarke's already growing reputation as a leader of the developing Australia side. Only when Graeme Smith threw the ball to Duminy for his first over in Test cricket did Clarke falter.Duminy's offspin provided handy drift and turn but it was an innocuous full toss that removed Clarke, who tried to drive down the ground but spooned to the left of the diving bowler, who snapped up the chance. While Clarke was the recognised man in the partnership, Johnson added to his standing as a useful lower-order batsman with his second Test half-century. Johnson is more than just a handy bat, as he demonstrated with his batting skills and with his powerful drives down the ground. Even when Johnson departed with an edge to slip off Dale Steyn, South Africa's problems were not finished. Hauritz and Siddle (23) capitalised on a tiring attack and put together a 59-run stand for the ninth wicket to take the score past 400. It was Australia's first 400-plus total of the series.


South Africa batted for 20 minutes before tea and they survived without any damage, although Doug Bollinger showed promise in his first Test spell. Twice he found the edge off Graeme Smith, who was fortunate not only that the balls didn't go to hand in the cordon but also that Clarke missed an easy run-out chance with Smith well short two balls before the break. After the break Smith continued in his dominating manner whereas McKenzie was happy to hang around and just survive. With Smith at the crease the run flow did not cease and in the 13th over of the innings he got hit by a Johnson lifter on his fingers and had to leave the crease retired hurt and this brought Amla to crease.


Amla was gain at his elegant best, using his wrists and placing the ball through the gaps, whereas McKenzie seemed to arrest his shots within himself. Just when he was getting comfortable at the crease, Siddle who came as the bowling change nipped one back and trapped the leaden footed McKenzie. Amla and Kallis then saw through the rest of the day without any more hiccups.







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