Australia win the battle of nerves


Teenage fast bowler Pat Cummins sealed a dream Test debut when he hit the winning runs to take Australia to a two-wicket win in the second and final Test against South Africa at the Wanderers Stadium on Monday. Australia chased down a target of 310 to share the series. Cummins, who took six for 79 in South Africa’s second innings, was named man of the match. Wicketkeeper Brad Haddin (55) and left-handed fast bowler Mitchell Johnson (40 not out) were mainly responsible for their team reaching the target, putting on 72 for the seventh wicket after all Australia’s specialist batsmen had been dismissed with 95 still needed. South African opening bowler Vernon Philander claimed his second five- wicket haul in his second Test to keep South Africa in with a chance of winning but did not get enough support from his more experienced teammates. Philander took five for 70. Philander bowled Australian Michael Clarke in the fourth over of the day after only three runs had been added to the overnight 142 for three.
Australia suffered a major blow 20 runs later when Ricky Ponting was caught at second slip off Morne Morkel for 62, having added only eight runs off 34 balls as the bowlers took advantage of helpful overcast conditions. But Mike Hussey and Haddin put together a watchful sixth wicket partnership of 50 and with the sun starting to beat down on the ground the odds seemed to be swinging slightly in favour of Australia. There was yet another twist in a match of fluctuating fortunes when Philander was brought back shortly before tea and trapped Hussey leg before wicket for 39 with a ball which swung into the left-hander. Hussey sought a television review but there was no reprieve as umpire Billy Bowden’s decision was shown to be correct.
It left Haddin and the hard-hitting Johnson to revive Australia’s hopes. Haddin seldom looked secure early on as he played and missed several times and was hit on the helmet by a bouncer from Dale Steyn. But he grew in confidence after tea as he and Johnson attacked the bowling. At tea, Australia were 88 runs short of victory, with only seven overs left before the second new ball was due. Haddin and Johnson played a flurry of attacking strokes to add 54 runs in those overs. The partnership was worth 72 when Haddin edged Philander to wicketkeeper Mark Boucher in the third over with the new ball.
Peter Siddle chipped a catch to midwicket off Steyn in the next over and Cummins walked out with 18 still needed. Following the example of Haddin and Johnson he batted positively. He was dropped on five, with nine runs needed when a powerful straight drive burst through bowler Steyn’s hands and went for four. With Australia needing just five runs, South African captain Graeme Smith brought on leg-spinner Imran Tahir and allowed Johnson to take a single by setting the field deep. Cummins was beaten by a googly and South Africa appealed for leg before wicket. Umpire Ian Gould gave him not out.
The highest chase in Johannesburg
n Australia’s score of 310 is the highest in a successful chase at the Wanderers, and the fourth-highest in South Africa. Australia have been the winning team on three of those four occasions.
n Ricky Ponting’s 62 is his highest Test score in more than a year. During this period, he has averaged 20.46 in 16 innings, with only two fifties. Before this knock, he had gone 13 innings without a half-century.
n Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson saved their best for this key day as well. Haddin played 106 balls for his 55 – it was the first time he’d faced more than 100 deliveries in a Test innings in 17 innings, extending over almost a year. Johnson had a poor game with the ball, but as a batsman he made significant contributions in both innings, remaining unbeaten on 38 and 40.