Matt Renshaw leaves the field after being dismissed by Vernon Philander for eight runs.
Matt Renshaw leaves the field after being dismissed by Vernon Philander for eight runs.

Proteas have struggling Aussies on the ropes

AUSTRALIA must rewrite the history books or lose its first series in South Africa since the apartheid era, with the new faces crumbling as the Proteas placed the fragile visitors on the ropes.

No team has lost a Test in Johannesburg after reaching 400 runs in the first innings and this South Africa team appears poised to continue that record after a ruthless day two display in the fourth Test.

Australia was 6-110 at stumps on day two, trailing South Africa by 378 with Usman Khawaja's 53 (84) saving face before his wicket triggered a second mini-collapse.

 

The three batting inclusions capitulated, collectively making just 12 runs and lasting 41 balls, in response to South Africa's 488, where Temba Bavuma was left stranded on 95.

Facing the Proteas' formidable pace attack at The Bullring, Australia missed its "Bull" David Warner, who was back in Australia facing the music from the ball-tampering scandal.

A fatigued Australian attack also looked ready to fly home - perhaps unsurprising after the wild and "draining" week - with more in The Wanderers wicket than their bowling figures suggested.

That was proved with the Proteas' dismantling of Australia's top order, after Australia had failed to capitalise on Pat Cummins and debutant Chadd Sayers' late handiwork on day one.

South Africa's bowlers generated far more swing, with Joe Burns pushing forward to edge Kagiso Rabada's ball to Faf du Plessis in slips.

Queensland opening partner Matt Renshaw's attempts to dig in lasted 32 balls, nicking a Vernon Philander classic to the keeper for eight.

Usman Khawaja’s half century was the only bright spot for Australia.
Usman Khawaja’s half century was the only bright spot for Australia.

With his feet cemented to the deck, nervy Peter Handscomb edged on to his stumps as he attempted to leave a Philander inswinger, continuing the rot.

Khawaja offered a ray of hope, playing well until his leg glance was brilliantly caught by stump-hugging de Kock off Vernon Philander, who finished with 3-17.

The Marsh brothers were skittled in quick succession, Mitch Marsh (4) dragging Morne Morkel back onto his off-stump.

Shaun Marsh's gritty innings (16 off 74) ended moments later, nicking spinner Keshav Maharaj to AB de Villiers at first slip.

The dominant second day left the Proteas edging closer to a first home series win over Australia since 1969-70 (a 4-0 series sweep).

Morne Morkel celebrates a wicket with his South African teammates.
Morne Morkel celebrates a wicket with his South African teammates.

Australia's extraordinary record on South African soil is one of its finest cricketing achievements, winning five and drawing two in an undefeated streak stretching back to 1993-4.

Tim Paine sent a scare through the Australian camp early on day two after copping a whack on his problematic right hand after a 122-kilometre delivery from Sayers.

Team physio David Beakley came out to attend Paine at the end of the over, treating his thumb for several minutes, before resuming behind the stumps.

The aggressive and courageous Paine ignored his previous travails to stand right by the stumps to Sayers - as he has done to fellow medium pacer Mitch Marsh this series - whose brilliant delivery evaded Quinton de Kock's outside edge and caught him on the right glove.

Tim Paine had a tough day at the office.
Tim Paine had a tough day at the office.

Paine, 33, has required seven operations and three bone grafts since his bad finger break in the 2010 T20 exhibition game and even had to change his grip, unable to hold the bat the way he once did.

The Paine incident epitomised Australia's luckless first session, with several edges narrowly evading fielders as the Proteas ran away from the visitors. But their bowling was too inconsistent.

Warner's press conference was the talk of The Wanderers on the morning of day two, with South Africa's clear heads exploiting the new-look and emotionally fatigued Australians.

Bavuma and de Kock built a key 89-run first session partnership after Aiden Markram's 152 off 216 balls laid a strong foundation.



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