Facing a world record target of 430 runs, the South African batsmen would either need to score fast or dig in for their second knock. They chose the latter. The Proteas occupied the crease for 148 overs, four and a half sessions and nine hours, scoring at a snails pace of 1.67 runs per over to deny what looked a certain Australian win.
Test debutant Faf du Plessis capped off a remarkable debut by carrying his bat for more than seven and a half hours and for 110 runs from 376 deliveries, improving on his impressive first dig of 78. He was ably supported by school boy teammate A.B De Villiers (33) and the injured Jacques Kallis (46). du Plessis’ performance was one of remarkable skill, concentration and endurance and will surely go down as one of the great debut innings.
Peter Siddle was the pick of the Australian bowlers and almost single-handedly dragged them over the line. Siddle snuck one between A.B. De Villiers’ bat and pad, before picking up the late wickets of Dale Steyn and Rory Kleinveldt to at least give the Aussies a sniff of a late victory. Following the injury to James Pattinson in the first innings, Siddle bowled a remarkable 63.5 overs in the match, pushing through both fatigue and injury barriers.
Captain Michael Clarke reserved special praise for the efforts of his durable paceman. "Peter Siddle was outstanding," he said. "But it's what's expected of you. If you want to play for Australia, you've got to dig deep."
The South Africans would take particular satisfaction from denying the Aussies, knowing that the number one ranking was on the line if they lost. As it stands, the Australians will need to win in Perth to snatch the number one ranking away from the Proteas.
The Australians have drafted in three new pacemen into their squad for the third test at the WACA; re-born left armer Mitchell Johnson and the uncapped John Hastings and Josh Heazelwood. Either of those three are a chance to play on what is traditionally a pace friendly wicket and especially considering the injury to Pattinson and the workload of Siddle and Hilfenhaus. Rob Quiney has been dropped in favour of Shane Watson following a disappointing effort with the bat in both Tests.
Adam Schoenmaker is a high school chaplain in the northern suburbs of Brisbane for three days each week and serves two days a week in his local church. Adam loves a good book, a classic album and all Queensland sporting teams.
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