South Africa recently notched up an impressive 309-run win in the third and deciding cricket test to win the series 1-0 against Australia. After making a first innings score of 225 they fought back hard to have Australia reeling at 6/45 early on the second day. Dale Steyn caused much of that damage with two wickets in his first over of the day and then a brilliant delivery with just enough movement to dismiss the in-form Clarke cheaply. They dismissed Australia for 163 and then seized the initiative in a way I have rarely seen. After batting slowly in the final innings of the previous test to save the match they showed they can bat at the other end of the spectrum, putting away the Australian bowlers with classy batting. South Africa ended day 2 with 2/230 after just 38 overs, a lead of 292 which is amazing given their first innings score. Smith scored 84 off 100 balls while Amla was 99* off just 84 balls.
In my earlier post about the second test I mentioned the rapidity of the partnership between Clarke and Warner. Here we saw two rapid partnerships by the South Africans. Smith and Amla added 178 in 25.3 overs while de Villiers and du Plessis later added 112 in just 14.1 overs, with both partnerships featuring side by side in this list of fastest test partnerships of 100+. De Villiers raced from 50 to 150 in just 63 balls, including 3 cheeky reverse sweeps in a row to move from 89 to 101! Amla finished with 196 off 221 while de Villiers made 169 off 184 as South Africa finished with 569 at 5.08 runs per over. It’s interesting that two scores from the same series and by opposing sides fill the third and fourth spots in this list of the highest test run rates in a completed innings.
Australia were set 632 to win and were never going to get close, with an extremely even bowling performance from South Africa’s frontline bowlers dismissing them for 322 after an entertaining last wicket stand of 87. Ricky Ponting was not to get a fairy tale ending to his distinguished career, making just 4 and 8 for the match. Mitchell Starc interestingly scored the second fastest test half century by an Australian (32 balls).
Faf du Plessis in this game set a record for being the only player to score 70 or more in his first test three innings 78, 110*, and 78* (see this article in The Roar). The following is a list of others who have did well (60+) in each of their first three test innings.
- Sunil Gavaskar (Ind) scored 65, 67*, 116 in his first three innings, following it up with 64*.
- Herbert Sutcliffe (Eng) scored 64, 122, 83.
- Ian Bell (Eng) scored 70, 65*, 162*.
- Andrew Strauss (Eng) scored 112, 83, and 62.
- Herbie Collins (Aus) scored 70, 104, and 64.