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Cricket | South Africa

Graeme Smith © Gallo Images

Smith ton inspires Proteas' fightback

A century from skipper Graeme Smith and a half century from Alviro Petersen helped South Africa fight back on day two of the second test against Australia in Adelaide.

The Proteas dug in deep to make it to 217 for two at stumps, still 333 runs behind Australia’s first-innings score of 550.

Smith (111 not out) and Petersen (54) got off to a really good start after South Africa dismissed the Australians just before lunch, as a mini-collapse saw the hosts lose five wickets for 68 runs.

The South African openers safely negotiated a tricky 15 minutes before the lunch break and the pair eventually managed to put on a 138-run opening stand before Petersen was the first to fall.

It was some silly running that cost Petersen -- he pushed a ball from Nathan Lyon forward and raced off for a single, but he didn’t keep the right line while running between the wickets and had to dodge Smith on his way to the non-striker’s end. He wasn’t running quite fast enough and didn’t ground his bat, so a direct hit from Michael Hussey sent him back for 54.

South Africa still looked in control of the fightback and Hashim Amla joined Smith at the other end.

There were some nervy moments for the Proteas’ skipper, though, but he was saved by the review system. The on-field umpire had given Smith out caught behind off James Pattinson, but the decision was reviewed immediately and HotSpot showed nothing. After much deliberation, the decision was over-turned and Smith continued on his merry way.

Amla was looking good and managed to pick the gaps, but with a roll of the dice Michael Clarke brought David Warner into the attack and the trick immediately worked.

Amla was drawn out of his crease and Matthew Wade reacted fast enough to disrupt his stumps. At 169 for two, Jacques Rudolph strolled out to the middle to join Smith and the pair dug in for a 48-run partnership and survived until stumps.

With AB de Villiers, Jacques Kallis, who will bat despite having a grade-one hamstring strain, and Faf du Plessis still to come, the Proteas will fancy their chances to bat for as long as possible as they look to save the test -- and pace ace Morne Morkel believes that the Proteas have got what it takes.

"The margin for error is so small on this wicket but we had a lot of positivity going into the second day and we believed we could fight our way back into the game. If we just sit back and think the game is over then we'll lose in three or four days," Morkel said.

"But that's not the way we play our cricket, we are proud South Africans and we fight hard at all times.

"I think Saturday will be a very exciting day. The third day of a test match is usually the 'moving' day and we are hoping for a couple of big partnerships and we'll take it from there. Graeme is a man for the big occasion and we are in good hands with him at the crease.

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Earlier, South Africa had their backs up against the wall on the second morning but some magic from Morkel, who bagged his first five-for against Australia, put the visitors right back in it.

Morkel struck early to dismiss Clarke for 230, trapping him inside his crease and dismantling his middle stump. The Australian skipper didn’t move his feet and missed his shot completely, becoming the first to fall as the South Africans slowly clawed their way back into the match.

Morkel struck again just a few overs later, with Wade falling as he played a loose shot and the edge went through to wicketkeeper De Villiers for a simple catch.

Rory Kleinveldt then bagged his maiden test scalp, getting rid of Peter Siddle who got a thick edge through to the slips with Smith taking an easy catch.

There were some moments of panic for the rookie bowler, though, as the umpires deliberated over whether Kleinveldt’s foot had landed behind the line or not. The benefit of doubt went to the bowler and the Proteas were right on course for a fightback.

Morkel then got rid of Ben Hilfenhaus to bag his five-for, banging one in short with the top edge flying to deep square leg and, at 504-9, the visitors had made a significant dent in Australia’s charge.

Pattinson, however, had other ideas, hitting 42 off 35 before eventually being dismissed by Dale Steyn, bringing an end to Australia’s onslaught.

"It was a special moment to take five wickets, a lot of hard work and effort but worth it in the end. The body and mind were both hurting after the first day but we took the early wickets we needed on the second morning and now we have a couple of batsmen well set and a couple more waiting to come, so we have recovered very well," Morkel said.

"I went for a few runs but the guys backed me and gave me a lot of support throughout the two days. Jacques (Kallis) was the first to give me a high-five when we got back into the change rooms. His hamstring is still a bit tight but, hopefully, with another day's rest and another good night's sleep he'll be OK to bat," he added.

Report Day 1

AUSTRALIA: Ed Cowan, David Warner, Rob Quiney, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke (capt), Michael Hussey, Matthew Wade (wk), Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Ben Hilfenhaus, Nathan Lyon.

SOUTH AFRICA: Graeme Smith (capt), Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers (wk), Jacques Rudolph, Faf du Plessis, Rory Kleinveldt, Morne Morkel, Dale Steyn, Imran Tahir.


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