Still, a lot to play for
Australia were on target for victory but South Africa gave themselves an outside chance of salvaging the first Test on the fourth day at the Wanderers Stadium on Sunday.
South Africa, set an improbable 454 to win, were 178 for two at the close. Australia collapsed to 207 all out in their second innings as South Africa fought back on their best day of the match.
But Australia’s dominance of the first three days left them well placed to bounce back from a home series defeat against the same opponents earlier in the season. South Africa, who trailed by 246 runs on the first innings, started solidly in their second turn with the bat, with captain Graeme Smith and Neil McKenzie putting on 76 for the first wicket.
McKenzie was caught behind off Mitchell Johnson for 35 but Smith and Hashim Amla batted confidently in a second wicket stand of 54 to raise hopes of a come-from-behind win for South Africa even better than their 414-run chase in the first Test of the Australian series in Perth last December. But new cap Ben Hilfenhaus struck a crucial blow when Smith top-edged an attempted pull to mid-on after hitting 69 off 110 balls.
Another debutant Phil Hughes top-scored for Australia with 75. He was twice given not out despite gloving balls from Morne Morkel to wicketkeeper Mark Boucher, with South Africa failing to refer the decisions to television umpire Asad Rauf.
The tourists reached 99 for one but lost three wickets in the space of four balls without another run added. Another four wickets fell for the addition of 48 runs before the last two wickets added 60 runs.
TV umpire adds to confusion
Television umpire Asad Rauf added to the confusion over Test cricket’s referral system when he over-ruled a decision by on-field umpire Billy Bowden on Sunday.
Bowden gave Australian batsman Brad Haddin out leg-before wicket to left-arm spinner Paul Harris. Haddin asked for the decision to be reviewed and Rauf decided he was not out — although television pictures showed the ball would have hit his off stump.