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South Africa levels series with 231-run win

Steyn leads the way with four-for as Australia collapses to 216 all out after Rogers-Warner opening stand of 126 runs

South Africa levels series with 231-run win - Cricket News
Graeme Smith and Dale Steyn celebrate after winning the second Test.
South Africa wrenched Australia’s fate from the hands of the weather gods and took charge of its own destiny, clinching the second Test between the two teams in Port Elizabeth on Sunday (February 23) by 231 runs in the fading light of day four to level the series at one apiece.
 
Amid high drama and a flurry of tight television reviews, the hosts claimed 9 for 66 in an extended final session, with the final Australian wicket falling at 6.30pm.
 
Chasing 448 for victory, Australia had fallen from 126 without loss shortly before tea to 216 all out. With thick clouds approaching and rain forecast for the final day, South Africa knew it could not afford to let Australia take the game into Monday. Such an outcome was avoided thanks to Dale Steyn, who roared back to his awesome best with four wickets as Australia’s last nine batsmen were all kept to single figures, consigning Chris Rogers’s 107 to something of a footnote.
 
By the end of it all, it was difficult to believe that, at one stage, an Australian victory was being spoken about as a genuine possibility. South Africa had batted on for an hour and 17 minutes in the morning, long enough to add 78 runs in 17 overs, and for Hashim Amla to bring up his 21st Test century. He moved to 127 not out before Graeme Smith declared on 270 for 5.
 
There was no great alarm for the hosts when David Warner and Rogers saw out eight overs before lunch, but after the interval Warner hit Morne Morkel out of the attack, at one stage savaging four consecutive fours, and Australia reached 100 without loss at the beginning of the 25th over.
 
With the pitch offering little to South Africa’s seamers, it was difficult to see where a wicket was coming from and a record chase felt feasible in the event that the weather stayed clear. Yet, the breakthrough came when JP Duminy switched to the Park Drive End and got one to shoot from the rough and trap Warner in front for 66.
 
Suddenly things started happening for South Africa. Rogers, on 69, edged Steyn behind in the final over before tea but was given not out by umpire Kumar Dharmasena as the slip cordon showed little interest. Graeme Smith elected not to review. In the over after tea, Alex Doolan edged Vernon Philander towards AB de Villiers but the ball bounced a centimetre short of the keeper.
 
The game burst into flames five overs later, when Morkel gained a thicker edge from Doolan, and this time it carried to Graeme Smith at slip. Philander condemned Shaun Marsh to a pair in the next over as reverse swing crept in, which opened the door for Steyn to work his magic.
 
Steyn’s four-over spell was one that will be related to future generations by those who witnessed it. His previous spell had brought him nothing but frustration, and it almost appeared as though he was raging against a fading ability after a couple of disappointing Tests. Yet a hint of reverse was all he needed to rediscover his spark, as he claimed 3 for 4 in 15 deliveries.
 
Each of the three deliveries was a peach. The first found the edge of Michael Clarke’s bat and was well held by Faf du Plessis at second slip, and the very next delivery swung in late to trap Steve Smith plumb in front. The third was even better, blasting through Brad Haddin’s defences to rip his middle stump clean out of the ground, the beauty being that although Haddin knew the inswinger was coming, he was powerless to stop it.
 
Australia had lost 5 for 14 in ten overs in front of a raucous St. George’s crowd that had gone from a nervous mutter to baying for blood. Somehow, Rogers had survived the onslaught without being overly troubled, and he deserved every bit of applause when he brought up his third century in four Tests – each of which have come in the second innings – during a momentary lull.
 
The quiet didn’t last long though, because Philander returned to trap Mitchell Johnson lbw, with Graeme Smith finally having a not-out decision overturned on review, to set up a nervy 40 minutes. Rogers survived when an edge down the leg side was shown to have bounced just in front of de Villiers, but the umpires still allowed South Africa the extra half-hour, or eight overs, to try and wrap up the last three wickets.
 
Steyn then trapped Ryan Harris lbw in the next over. Four overs later, with the light beginning to fade, Rogers was run out by a direct hit from substitute fielder Alviro Petersen.

South Africa squared a hugely entertaining series at 1-1, setting it up beautifully for Newlands, where the first two days are already sold out.

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