Series shared as Aussies pull off record chase
Patrick Cummins held his nerve to hit the winning runs as Australia recorded the highest successful run chase at the Wanderers to beat South Africa by two wickets.
Eighteen-year-old Patrick Cummins held his nerve to hit the winning runs as Australia recorded the highest successful run chase at the Wanderers to beat South Africa by two wickets and earn a share of the series.
A remarkable Test match went right down to the wire, with Cummins and Mitchell Johnson adding 18 for the ninth wicket to see Australia chase down a target of 310 in the fading light of the fifth evening.
The match was on a knife edge throughout the final day, with rain delaying play by three hours but leaving just enough time for a result to be secured before bad light could have a say.
Adding to the epic nature of the match was the fact that the likes of Ricky Ponting and Brad Haddin, who were seen by many to be batting for their Test careers, scored vital runs in the chase while the under-fire Johnson reminded the selectors of his skill with the bat as he struck an unbeaten 40 in just 47 balls.
On the other side, Vernon Philander again proved his immense value to the Proteas as he struck at critical moments to keep the home side in the Test when Australian partnerships had given the visitors the edge.
Australia resumed on 142 for three after an early lunch had been taken, still needing 168 runs to become the first side to successfully chase more than 300 at the Wanderers.
Philander got the action rolling when he struck in his second over of the day, removing Michael Clarke with the perfect incutter which darted through the gate to hit the top of off stump.
Ponting and Michael Hussey battled on for another ten overs, seeing off the opening spell from Philander and Dale Steyn but adding just 20 runs before Ponting's departure.
The former skipper had crawled to 62, having added just eight runs to his overnight total in more than ten overs, when he had a somewhat lazy cut at Morne Morkel and was caught by Jacques Rudolph at second slip.
That put the Proteas on top, but a 50-run partnership between Hussey and Haddin edged Australia ever closer and took Australia to within a hundred runs of their target.
Yet just before tea Philander struck again, trapping Hussey lbw for 39 to revive South Africa's hopes and send Australia into the interval on 222 for six.
With nine overs to go to the second new ball, Australia realised they needed quick runs after the break and Haddin and Johnson came out all guns blazing to add 54 runs before Steyn and Philander got their hands on it.
South Africa lost the plot during that time, setting some puzzling fields and allowing several boundaries through poor fielding, as the number of runs required slipped down to just 34.
However Philander turned the match again as he had Haddin caught behind for 55 to claim his fifth wicket of the innings – his second five-for in as many matches, which ultimately earned him the man of the match award.
New man Peter Siddle clipped Steyn through midwicket for four in the next over, but Steyn hit back two balls later when he forced Siddle to lob tamely to short mid-on, leaving Australia needing 18 runs with just two wickets in hand.
Johnson and Cummins took six runs from the next over from Philander, and Cummins then had a close call when he next faced Steyn as he drove back past the bowler hard enough to prevent being caught.
Graeme Smith went all in and recalled Imran Tahir for the next over, and after Johnson managed a single, Cummins survived a tight lbw call after failing to read the googly.
Umpire Ian Gould gave it not out, and after South Africa reviewed the decision, Hawkeye kept the umpire's decision as the ball had not struck Cummins directly in line with off stump.
Cummins wasn't about to take any more chances, and two balls later he belted Tahir through midwicket for four to take Australia to victory, and leave everyone wishing there was a third and deciding Test to look forward to.
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