Proteas hit back in Johannesburg


South Africa's bowlers fought back strongly from a poor start on day two of their second Test to bowl Australia out for 296, limiting the tourists to a first-innings lead of 30.

South Africa's bowlers fought back strongly from a poor start on day two of their second Test to bowl Australia out for 296, limiting the tourists to a first-innings lead of 30.

As with day one there was a remarkable twist in the second part of the day, but this time the batting collapse was arguably more dramatic as Australia went from 174 without loss to 296 all out, throwing away their position of dominance in the face of some much-improved bowling.

South Africa skipper Graeme Smith then faced just four deliveries before bad light stopped play, with the home side yet to get off the mark in their second innings but very much back in the match after a horror first session on Friday.

Shane Watson and Phillip Hughes had run amok in an extended session, scoring 169 runs as South Africa lost the plot. Although the Proteas bowled decently up front, Australia's openers showed good application and then began to cash in as South Africa's frustration showed.

With boundary balls being served up at least once an over, Watson and Hughes scored at more than five runs per over in the session to set Australia up for a big first-innings lead. However it wasn't to be.

Just five runs had been added to Australia's lunch time score in more than three overs when Vernon Philander made the crucial first breakthough, finding the edge of Hughes' bat to see the left-hander well caught by AB de Villiers at first slip.

Watson crunched a couple more drives to take his score to 88 – the same score that Hughes managed – but then fell into the trap as he pulled Jacques Kallis straight to Imran Tahir at deep square leg.

The collapse was on, and Ricky Ponting's poor run of form continued as he was trapped lbw by a vicious Dale Steyn inswinger in the next over to depart for a three-ball duck, before Morne Morkel accounted for Michael Clarke when some extra bounce was edged through to de Villiers.

Usman Khawaja and Michael Hussey saw the tourists through to tea after a session in which they'd added just 51 runs – a statistic which reflected South Africa's tighter bowling – but the Proteas came out firing on all cylinders after the break.

Smith began the session with Morkel and Steyn in tandem, and the latter finally trapped Khawaja lbw for a laboured 12. The left-hander had looked a candidate for the dismissal throughout his innings, and his referral merely showed how clueless he was about his position in relation to his stumps as the replay had the ball rattling middle stump.

Steyn cleaned up Hussey (20) in the next over as the batsman was caught on the crease, and after a brief stand between Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson had edged Australia towards South Africa's total of 266, Imran Tahir struck twice in one over to pick up his first Test scalps.

First Haddin was trapped lbw by the one that went straight on, and then Peter Siddle was bamboozled by the googly to be bowled four nought, eliciting a wild celebration from the legspinner.

Johnson's clean hitting took Australia into the lead, but he ran out of partners as Steyn's classic outswinger saw Pat Cummins caught behind and Tahir trapped Nathan Lyon lbw to end the innings with Johnson unbeaten on 38.

Steyn would have had a five-wicket haul had substitute fielder Dale Deeb held a regulation catch at cover off his bowling, but it was not to be as the fast bowler finished with figures of 4 for 64, and Tahir overcame a nightmare first spell before lunch to take 3 for 55.