Mitchell Johnson captured the eighth best figures by an Australian to put his side in a dominant position and by lunch it had a 143-run lead over South Africa.
Peter English writes for cricinfo that Johnson’s 8 for 61 from 24 overs ensured the hosts gained a first-innings advantage of 94, but they sustained a setback when the out-of-form Matthew Hayden (4) was the victim of a poor decision.
At lunch Australia were 1 for 49 during a streaky 12 overs that continued an entertaining opening session. Johnson earned his eighth breakthrough with a bouncer to Dale Steyn, who ducked but didn’t drop his hands and the ball hit his glove on the way to Brad Haddin. Haddin was about a metre away from giving Johnson a ninth when Mark Boucher top-edged a pull and it fell between the diving wicketkeeper and Brett Lee, who was running around from fine-leg.
Instead of the best return by an Australian in an innings, Johnson had to settle for a spot on a list including Glenn McGrath, Bob Massie and Shane Warne. Johnson started the day with 7 for 42, following his blast of 5 for 2 late on the second evening that turned the game Australia’s way.
South Africa’s tail was a nuisance for the home team with Boucher reaching 24 and working the bowling – and the strike – cleverly as Australia allowed some easy runs. The 25 added for the final wicket could be valuable as the match goes on, even though South Africa gave up a significant deficit. Peter Siddle got the final breakthrough, his first in Australia, when Boucher cut to Simon Katich, who then sprinted off the field to prepare for his innings.
Katich was much more lively than his struggling partner Hayden, who was fortunate to escape an lbw appeal from Steyn, and also edged just short of AB de Villiers at third slip before he scored. When he finally got off the mark, with a push through midwicket for four from his 20th delivery, he raised his bat in mock celebration.
Two balls later he was the victim, balancing the previous mistake, when Steyn’s delivery hit Hayden’s pad and rebounded to the bowler. Aleem Dar said it was a caught-and-bowled and will do well to make a bigger mistake in the next year.
Hayden left with more scrutiny on his position after a double failure. Katich was much more confident and raced to 29 while Ricky Ponting avoided a pair with a flick off his pads. He also started in a hurry and was 15 off 11 at the interval.Tweet