Dale Steyn sizzled and South Africa sauntered to a 231-run win in Port Elizabeth, and now Australia must exorcise its Cape Town demons if they’re to win the three-Test series.
Chris Rogers scored a resolute century on day four of the second Test, but was one of nine wickets to fall in an extended final session as the visitors were rolled for 216 with two balls remaining in the day’s play.
Australia now have five days to reassess before the series decider starts on Saturday at Newlands, where Australia were rolled for 47 on their most recent visit in 2011.
“Probably the same way South Africa got over it after Centurion,” Michael Clarke said of how he will turn things around.
“I said last time we were here I wished there was a third Test match being 1-1, so now we’ve got that challenge.
“It was only seven days ago we were playing fantastic cricket so I’m not too concerned.
“You should feel the disappointment any time you lose and the guys will be feeling that.”
Rogers was run out for 107 at 6.26pm on Sunday attempting a risky single and the match ended the following over when Nathan Lyon was adjudged lbw, despite edging the ball.
The 36-year-old put on a fluent 126-run opening stand with David Warner, piloting his side to a score of 1-141 at tea.
It then all fell apart for Australia as they wilted dramatically in pursuit of the historically impossible target of 448 that Graeme Smith set with a declaration at 5-270 in the morning.
The No.1 team on the ICC’s rankings flexed their muscle, none more so than Steyn, in an incredible 5.5 overs of cricket in which the visitors added five runs for the loss of five wickets.
Steyn captured the wickets of Clarke (one), Steve Smith (duck) and Brad Haddin (one) in a fiery four-over spell of 3-10.
Graeme Smith has the perfect chance to record South Africa’s first Test series win at home over Australia since readmission in 1994.
“It (Newlands) is a ground that we have a lot of confidence at, have performed well for a very long time,” Smith said.
“We know how to win there, which is exciting.”
Some 64.3mm of rain was predicted to fall in Port Elizabeth on Monday, but Smith suggested he hadn’t been worried about potential weather disruptions on day five.
“I still believed there would be enough time tomorrow to get at least two sessions of play in. We know some weathermen pretty high up,” he joked.
Wayne Parnell’s groin injury meant Smith was a bowler down and Robin Peterson’s omission left him without a frontline spinner.
But it hardly seemed to matter, with JP Duminy making the all-important first breakthrough in the 30th over when he trapped Warner lbw for 66.
Duminy, who hurt his ribs diving on a ball in the final hour of play, was named man of the match for his knock of 123 in the first innings.
Australia’s captain, Michael Clarke, meanwhile, is battling a run of poor form; in his last 10 innings he has yet to reach the 25 run mark.
His last big total came in the first innings of the Adelaide Test match in early December.
MICHAEL CLARKE’S RECENT TEST INNINGS:
* 148, 22 v England in Adelaide, Dec 2013
* 24, 23 v England in Perth, Dec 2013
* 10, 6no v England in Melbourne, Dec 2013
* 10,6 v England in Sydney, Jan 2014
* 23, 17no v South Africa in Centurion, Feb 2014
* 19, 1 v South Africa in Port Elizabeth, Feb 2014
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