Proteas collapse puts Australia on top

Australia

South Africa's lack of patience with the bat cost them dearly on day one of the second Test against Australia.

South Africa's lack of patience with the bat cost them dearly on day one of the second Test against Australia, as they threw away a position of dominance to be bowled out for 266.

At 241 for four in the third session the Proteas seemed to be in control of their destiny, but Ashwell Prince's ill-advised attempt to go after offspinner Nathan Lyon proved the catalyst for a remarkable collapse that saw them lose their last six wickets for 25 runs.

South Africa had enjoyed a couple of good partnerships up to that point, with an unusually aggressive Jacques Kallis putting on 80 for the third wicket with Hashim Amla, before Prince shared a 112-run stand with AB de Villiers.

However the platform provided by each of those partnerships amounted to nothing as a number of batsmen put too cheap a price on their wickets, exposing the tail who were unable to cope with the spin of Lyon and Michael Clarke in the fading light at the Wanderers.

Australia were forced to bowl spin as they searched for the last couple of South African wickets in the gloom, and by the time they'd grabbed them it was too dark for the tourists to come out to bat against South Africa's quick men.

That brought the close of play after just 71 overs on the day, leaving Australia the happier camp after they'd taken a big step towards levelling the series.

Having won the toss and opted to bat, South Africa lost both of their openers in the morning session but made good progress on a pitch which appeared to be gathering pace.

Batting first at the Wanderers generally brings a testing opening period with it, as Graeme Smith and Jacques Rudolph found out when they both nicked off.

Smith departed in the seventh over as he felt for a Mitchell Johnson delivery and edged to second slip, while Rudolph drove handsomely through the off side on his way to 30 before the wiles of Shane Watson got the better of him.

As he did in Cape Town, Watson got the ball to swing either way, which brought Rudolph's downfall when he played for inswing and nicked through to Brad Haddin as the ball went straight on.

With South Africa 43 for two, Amla took the cautious approach as he scored a solitary single from his first 32 deliveries, but Kallis led the counter-attack as he stroked his first ball to the boundary and ended the session on 43 not out from 33 balls.

Australia suffered a setback when Watson failed to complete his fourth over due to what appeared to be a back problem, and the tourists also had the wrong end of the Decision Review System.

An lbw decision against Amla was upheld when hawk-eye showed a Johnson delivery ball was merely clipping off stump, and then Johnson's joy was short-lived in his final over of the session when he trapped Kallis lbw, only for a review to show a clear inside edge onto pad.

Kallis took 11 off Nathan Lyon in the final over of the first session to put the Proteas on the front foot going into the lunch break, but his overeagerness got the better of him shortly after he'd passed fifty when he clipped Peter Siddle straight to midwicket.

Amla had been more circumspect, but departed for just 19 shortly afterwards when he flashed at a wide one and was caught at second slip, giving 18-year-old Pat Cummins his first wicket in Test cricket.

At 129 for four South Africa were struggling, but de Villiers and Prince hauled them level and then onto the front foot, with de Villiers going to fifty in just 64 balls and Prince following suit in a more fortunate innings.

At one stage Prince edged three consecutive deliveries down to third man on his way to an 11th Test half-century, in a knock that never showed a great deal of fluidity.

While Kallis and Amla had been guilty of throwing their wickets away, Prince played the least forgivable shot when he came down the pitch to Lyon and failed to clear mid-on. With the Proteas already boasting a good run-rate, such aggression was highly unnecessary.

De Villiers followed suit when he tried to pull Siddle and top-edged to mid-on, after which South Africa went into freefall with only Dale Steyn (15 not out) showing any grit.

Mark Boucher top-edged Siddle to deep fine leg, Vernon Philander failed to play straight to a fairly straightforward delivery from Lyon and was trapped lbw, while Clarke nabbed the wickets of Morne Morkel and Imran Tahir without encountering much resistance.

Siddle finished with 3 for 69 from 15 overs, a statistic which betrayed South Africa's lack of patience, leaving the Proteas bowlers to carry the can once more when the Australian innings begins on Friday morning.

<i>Tristan Holme</i>

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