Lethal Lee leads Aussies
26 Mar 2006
By: Archie Mac
A speed blitz by paceman Brett Lee has swung what was an even contest at the start of day two, dramatically Australia's way. Lee claimed 5-69 to destroy the South African tail, and gave the Aussies a 102 run first innings lead.
The Australian top order consolidated the position by finishing day three at 125/1, a lead of 227. The Australian wicket to fall was that of Justin Langer who had made a breezy 37 (53 balls) but failed in his attempt to lift Nicky Boje over mid-on, and was caught by Shaun Pollock (49/1).
Ricky Ponting strode to the crease and made his intentions clear by racing to 48* off just 65 balls, hitting one six and seven fours along the way. A subdued Matthew Hayden remained not out 35.
Earlier in the day Stuart Clark had looked the form Australian bowler, keeping a fine length and producing some occasional extra bounce. He was rewarded with the wicket of AB de Villiers, (144/3) brilliantly caught low down by Matty Hayden in the gully.
de Villiers had just posted his fifty and with his partner Jacques Kallis looked well set to chase down the Aussie total. Kallis was the wicket the Aussie team wanted, but despite some shouts for caught behind he seemed indomitable. Again it was Clark who caused Kallis most trouble including striking him a painful blow on the elbow.
It was the support for Kallis that was the problem, although Ashwell Prince (33) and Jacques Rudolph (13) made starts both fell to catches off Shane Warne who bowled much better than he had on day two.
It was Clark (back in favour with his captain) who again claimed the prize wicket of Kallis for a gritty 114. Kallis had tried to turn Clark on the onside, a shot that had brought him plenty of runs through out his innings. Unfortunately this time he was a fraction early on the shot, and spooned back a simple caught and bowled (255/6).
It then became the Brett Lee show, bowling with tremendous pace (high 150s) Lee tore through the tail, including his 200th Test wicket, that of Mark Boucher bowled for 19. So effective was Lee that the Proteas last four wickets contributed only 12 runs. This was in stark contrast to the Australian lower order which had managed 116 from the last four wickets.
The signs do not look good for the Proteas, with two of the best bats in world cricket at the wicket, and plenty of batting still to come. Throw in the fact that South Africa will be batting last on a pitch that is showing all the signs of breaking up, plus the Warne factor, all this combines to suggest a rendition of 'underneath the Southern Cross I stand' should be heard early on day five.
Australian First Innings 369
Ricky Ponting 103, Mike Hussey 75
Makhaya Ntini 3-81, Andre Nel 3-83
South Africa First Innings 267
Jacques Kallis 114, AB de Villiers 50
Brett Lee 5-69, Stuart Clark 2-37
Australian Second Innings 125/1
Ricky Ponting 48*, Justin Langer 37
Nicky Boje 1-42
Australia lead by 227 runs