CENTURION: Australian fast bowler Mitchell Johnson claimed his career-best match figures as he bowled his team to a crushing 281-run win over South Africa on the fourth day of the first Test at SuperSport Park on Saturday. Johnson followed up his seven for 68 in the first innings with five for 59 as South Africa were bundled out for 200. As he did in the first innings, Johnson took a wicket in his first over and dismissed both South African opening batsmen cheaply to leave the hosts struggling.
AB de Villiers, who made 91 in the first innings, again provided the only significant resistance to the Johnson-inspired bowling attack, hitting 48 before driving Johnson to short cover where Australian captain Michael Clarke held a stinging catch. Johnson’s match figures of 12 for 127 bettered his previous match best of 11 for 159 against South Africa in Perth in 2008/09. It was a match dominated almost entirely by Australia, who thoroughly outplayed the team currently ranked number one in Test cricket.
Given the performance of Johnson in particular, it will be difficult for South Africa to come back in the two remaining Test matches. South Africa have not been beaten in a series since Australia beat them, also in South Africa, in 2008/09. As he did in the first innings, Johnson took a wicket in his first over, having Alviro Petersen caught behind for one. It was Johnson’s 250th Test wicket in his 57th Test match.
South African captain Graeme Smith, who was Johnson’s first over victim in the first innings, hit a four off a thick outside edge in Johnson’s second over but then fell to a superb catch by Alex Doolan when Smith clipped the ball firmly to short leg. Faf du Plessis was the third man out, with the total on 49, falling victim to a ball, which shot through, low from Peter Siddle and trapped him in front of his stumps. Hashim Amla made a solid 35 before he was caught at first slip off Ryan Harris.
Johnson, who took seven for 68 in the first innings, completed the third ten-wicket haul of his Test career when Doolan made another outstanding catch at short leg, snapping up JP Duminy. There was a hold-up shortly before the tea break when a Johnson bouncer hit the earpiece of Ryan McLaren’s helmet, with the batsman needing treatment on the field before continuing. McLaren was caught behind off Johnson soon after tea and an early finish was inevitable after De Villiers was dismissed, although lower order batsmen Robin Peterson and Vernon Philander both hit some lusty late blows. Clarke declared Australia’s second innings closed at 290 for four after only 3.2 overs when Shaun Marsh was caught behind off Dale Steyn without adding to his overnight score of 44.
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