South Africa pressed home its big advantage over Australia in the second test as Hashim Amla made 93 not out after earlier dislocating his finger and the hosts forged 369 runs ahead on the third day on Saturday.
Amla backed up a South African bowling attack that took six Australian wickets in just over a session at the start to roll the tourists out for 246 in their first innings. Australia added 134 to its overnight 112-4.
Already with a 177-run lead after batting first and making 423, South Africa then shrugged off the loss of four wickets to reach 192-4 at stumps in its second knock, chasing a series-leveling win and redemption after a 281-run humbling by Australia in the first test in Centurion.
Seamers Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander earlier took three wickets each at St. George’s Park and South Africa was in control from the time the dangerous David Warner edged behind for 70 in the day’s fifth over, adding just five to his overnight score.
Morkel was menacing for 3-63 and Philander ended up with 3-68, with only Steve Smith providing any long-term resistance for Australia on Saturday when he got to the brink of a half-century before falling to Morkel for 49.
Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle put on 37 for the last Australian wicket and Harris crucially hurried the Aussies past the follow-on target with a mighty six over midwicket in among his 26 from 26 balls. Australia was still well behind when he nicked behind.
Amla cruised toward a century with 12 fours and ensured South Africa didn’t see any lasting ill-effect from the dislocated ring finger on his left hand when he missed a sharp catch at gully in the morning. But the home team did have another problem with bowler Wayne Parnell pulling up halfway through his third over in the morning with a left groin strain.
Parnell limped off to go to the hospital for a scan and didn’t return while South Africa bowled the Australians out. Steve Smith hit eight boundaries in his 49, but no one else stayed around long enough to make any real inroads on South Africa’s strong first-innings total.
While Australia’s quicks struggled in the first innings and took just two wickets and went over 140 overs without a wicket South Africa’s seamers shared nine of their team’s 10 strikes.
Along with Morkel and Philander, Dale Steyn knocked out Brad Haddin’s off stump and Parnell’s two wickets in three balls on Friday began Australia’s slide. Offspinner JP Duminy was the only South African slow bowler in on the act, but his important wicket got rid of a hard-hitting Johnson for 27 from 23 deliveries on the stroke of lunch. That reduced Australia to 205-8 after Johnson had been roughed up and struck on the front of the helmet by Morkel.
Johnson did some roughing up of his own in South Africa’s second innings to take 2-48, bowling Graeme Smith convincingly with stumps played everywhere for 14 and striking a blow on Amla’s helmet that was so hard the ball flew over wicketkeeper Haddin for four.
Peter Siddle worked out Dean Elgar for 16 and Faf du Plessis for 24 to edges behind for his 2-53, and first-innings century-maker AB de Villiers became Johnson’s second wicket for 167-4.
But South Africa’s overall position of strength was undeniable as the lead approached 400 with two days to play and Amla settled and striking his trademark cover drives from a pitch South Africa has managed to stay in control on whether batting or bowling. Quinton de Kock, a 21-year-old on debut for South Africa, was 9 not out.
South Africa 1st Innings: 423.
Chris Rogers lbw b Philander 5
David Warner c Smith b Philander 70
Alex Doolan c De Villiers b Parnell 8
Shaun Marsh c De Villiers b Parnell 0
Michael Clarke c Elgar b Philander 19
Nathan Lyon b Morkel 15
Steve Smith c De Villiers b Morkel 49
Brad Haddin b Steyn 9
Mitchell Johnson b Duminy 27
Ryan Harris c Du Plessis b Morkel 26
Peter Siddle not out 11
Extras: (4lb, 2b, 1w) 7
TOTAL: (all out) 246
Fall of wickets: 1-7, 2-41, 3-41, 4-81, 5-120, 6-128, 7-168, 8-205, 9-209.
Bowling: Dale Steyn 13-3-55-1, Vernon Philander 13-0-68-3, Morne Morkel 17-0-63-3, Wayne Parnell 8.3-2-31-2, Dean Elgar 0.3-0-1-0, JP Duminy 5-0-24-1.
Graeme Smith b Johnson 14
Dean Elgar c Haddin b Siddle 16
Faf du Plessis c Haddin b Siddle 24
AB de Villiers c Haddin b Johnson 29
Quinton de Kock not out 9
Extras: (2b, 5lb) 7
TOTAL: (for 4 wickets) 192
Fall of wickets: 1-20, 2-42, 3-112, 4-167.
Still to bat: JP Duminy, Vernon Philander, Wayne Parnell, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel.
Bowling: Mitchell Johnson 12-0-48-2, Ryan Harris 10-1-53-0, Nathan Lyon 12-2-31-0, Peter Siddle 13-2-53-2.
Toss: South Africa.
Series: Australia leads three-match series 1-0.
Umpires: Kumar Dharmasena, Sri Lanka, and Richard Illingworth, England.
TV umpire: Aleem Dar, Pakistan. Match referee: Roshan Mahanama, Sri Lanka.