Ntini grabs five

Ntini bowled a fast and fiery opening spell to remove the top four Aussie batsmen and put the South Africans in a strong position on Day two of the 3rd Test. However, the groundwork for Ntini was laid by Ashwell Prince earlier in the day.

Resuming at 238-6, the South African innings could’ve folded for less than 250. Prince had other ideas. Batting with authority while not over-attacking, Prince proceeded calmly to within sight of his fourth Test ton, and second against Australia. However, he was caught by Langer at second slip off the bowling of Lee for 93 – the first time he has been dismissed between 50 and 100 in Tests. Prince looked the most comfortable of the South African batsmen at the crease and added valuable runs with Nicky Boje. Boje himself made a quickfire 43 and took the South African total to 303 all out.

The Aussie innings started in spectacular fashion. The first ball Ntini bowled was quick and nasty, hitting Langer on the head. Langer retired hurt and was taken to hospital for scans – he was later cleared of any serious injury. Ntini then removed Hayden in his next over with another widish ball outside the off-stump in a carbon copy of his dismissal in the first innings at Kingsmead.

The game was already going at a frenetic pace, and Martyn continued the trend. In his first few balls Martyn scored a four, and then an enomour pulled six off Ntini. With Nel struggling with the new ball instead of Shaun Pollock – the first time in eight years that Pollock hadn’t taken the new ball – the Australian 50 came up in quick time.

Despite the luncheon break, the Aussies were intent on attacking at all costs. However, Ntini bowled 10 overs on the trot to remove Ponting, Martyn and Symonds and leave the Aussies in quite a state at 106-5, effectively six wickets down due to the absence of Langer.

The situation required some patient cricket, and Hussey again came to the rescue. While the other batsmen were playing a shot per ball, Hussey bided his time and waited for the bad ball to score his runs. On a pitch that offered a bit of assistance to the faster bowlers, that was the approach to take and was the same method that worked so successfully for Prince earlier in the match.

Hussey, with Warne and Lee, added 140 runs to take the Aussies out of danger. He batted beautifully for his 73, while Warne and Lee batted aggressively to keep the scoreboard moving. Warne in particular seemed intent on playing shots, and with a bit of luck it worked for him until he was finally caught at fine leg for a quick 36. Lee then showed his improved batting skills by adding 68 with Hussey. Hussey was eventually trapped LBW by Boje for a fine 73 while Lee remained not out on 42, within sight of a 3rd Test 50 when bad light ended play for the day.

The Aussies were bailed out of danger yet again by Hussey. However, the South Africans will be pleased with an excellent effort, first by the lower order batsmen and then in the field to put Australia under pressure for the first time in the series. They look set for a first innings lead, and it is upto stand-in captain Kallis now to decide the direction the match goes.

South Africa 303
Ashwell Prince 93, Nicky Boje 43
Brett Lee 3-57, Stuart Clark 3-81

Australia 246-7
Michael Hussey 73, Brett Lee 42*
Makhaya Ntini 5-80, Nicky Boje 1-10

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