ICC Live

CT 2017 - Buy Tickets - 300x250

Harris sets up sensational Australia win

South Africa goes down by 245 runs, with 27 balls remaining, in Graeme Smith's final Test appearance

Harris sets up sensational Australia win - Cricket News
Ryan Harris (R) bowled Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel in the same over to clinch victory for Australia with just 27 balls remaining in the match.
Ryan Harris denied Graeme Smith what would have been a fitting farewell, as he claimed the last two wickets of South Africa’s innings in the dying moments of day five to give Australia a 245-run victory in the third and decisive Test at Newlands on Wednesday (March 5).
 
On a drama-filled final day, South Africa appeared set to complete another incredible rearguard to secure a draw and a share of the series, only for Harris to rewrite the script entirely.
 
Like Smith, the 34-year-old fast bowler knows he may never play international cricket again as he prepares for surgery on his troublesome knee. But should that be the case, Harris will have signed off on a high, bowling Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel in the same over to clinch victory with just 27 balls remaining in the match.
 
It was a heroic effort from an injured bowler in his 25th over of the innings, and a fitting end to a wonderful Test series that should stay in the memory for many years to come. If two absorbing games had already made it a very good one, the close finish here surely elevated it to greatness.
 
 South Africa resumed on 71 for 4, knowing that a victory target of 511 was well beyond reach, and so the pattern of the day was obvious: the hosts would defend, while Australia would be patient and attack in short bursts when they found assistance.
 
Kyle Abbott, the nightwatchman, had endured a fearful stay at the crease on Tuesday evening, and saw off a marginally less stressful spell of short-pitched bowling on Wednesday morning to frustrate Australia. Crucially, he was willing to get behind the line of Mitchell Johnson’s bouncers.
 
With AB de Villiers offering a dead bat to everything at the other end, context was everything. Without it, the match would have appeared completely dull and pointless as batsmen pushed the ball into wide gaps in the field and ambled through for the occasional run as de Villiers and Abbott added 24 in the first 25 overs of play.
 
The breakthrough came when Abbott left a James Pattinson delivery that nipped in a fraction to smash into off stump, ending his 114-minute vigil, which brought him just seven runs from 89 balls. Michael Clarke brought back Johnson in an attempt to dislodge new batsman Faf du Plessis, but lunch arrived without any further drama.
 
The second new ball was taken immediately after the interval though, and suddenly things were happening. De Villiers played and missed at a few from Harris, and finally feathered one through to Brad Haddin. After more than five hours at the crease, he had 43 to his name.
 
Du Plessis saw off the remainder of the new ball with JP Duminy, but Australia landed a key blow shortly before tea when Steve Smith drifted one across du Plessis and turned it back in to trap him lbw for 47. That removed the man who had been the thorn in its side in Adelaide in 2012, and also exposed the tail.
 
However, Vernon Philander’s stature as a batsman has grown immeasurably. An unbeaten 37 in the first innings showed what he is capable of, and here he decided that the odd positive stroke was the best way of survival. A top-edged six was part of his scoring repertoire as he went to tea on 16 from 13 deliveries.
 
The final session therefore began with Australia requiring three wickets to win, and South Africa needing to bat out 33 overs. Duminy and Philander reduced that to 20, even as Australia got the ball to reverse a touch, but then Johnson struck. Clarke had positioned a leg slip and leg gully at various points of Duminy’s innings, and the tactic brought success when Duminy tickled a legside delivery to Nathan Lyon.
 
From that moment, South Africa’s fate appeared to have been sealed, but Philander fought on with Steyn and was at the heart of the day’s most controversial moment when he was given out caught at short leg off Johnson. Replays confirmed the ball had flicked his right glove before thudding into his shoulder, but the third umpire ruled that his hand was off the bat when it did so.
 
The game went into the final hour thereafter, but ultimately the decision did not prove crucial. After Shane Watson and Johnson failed to dislodge either batsman, Harris returned for one final go and immediately found some reverse swing. It proved to good for Steyn, who missed a yorker that shaved the off stump, and for Morkel, who was bowled by a mean inducker.
 
Harris sped away from his delighted teammates, who finally caught him somewhere towards fine-leg as Australia’s supporters in the stands roared their approval. Twenty-seven deliveries was the difference.
 
Test cricket at its absolute best.

Similar Articles