Dynamic duo club together to blow away South Africa

Australia 355 & 321-7 dec South Africa 311 & 99-6
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The Independent Online

Together the powerful Queenslanders clubbed 124 runs in 93 balls. For an hour it was raining sixes. The die had been cast. The rest was inevitable.

Hayden, who made 137, his 25th Test century, and Symonds, with 72, forged a formidable partnership. Often opposites attract. Here mutual understanding lay behind a successful combination. Another partner might have recommended caution as Symonds walked to the wicket with mayhem in mind. Hayden nodded his approval.

Both batsmen unleashed numerous awesome blows. At one stage they seemed to be comparing notes like blasting trumpeters. Hayden's blow into the 10th row of the Southern Stand was answered by his partner's launch into the 15th row of the Northern Stand.

Both batsmen played exactly the right innings in the circumstances. Hayden carried the weight of Australia's second innings upon his shoulders. Throughout he played with brutal certainty and unceasing belligerence. Standing upright at the crease, he repeatedly blasted the ball back past the bowler. Once the field had been pushed back, he was content to place the ball into gaps.

Only fools and recently married men neglect singles. He ensured that his side did not falter. Partners came and went, Brad Hodge pushing away from his body, Michael Hussey edging an off-break to slip. Hayden remained omnipotent.

Not until Symonds arrived did the opener turn from collection to destruction. Perhaps it helped that Symonds walked out with the mien of a general entering a room full of lily-livered liberals.

Hayden responded to his partner's aggression with a coruscating attack of his own. Twice he thundered drives through extra-cover. Also he stepped down the pitch to belt Andre Nel over long-off, a withering blow played with the nonchalance of a man swatting flies. When he plays in this vein, starting slowly and gradually taking charge, Hayden is a great batsman.

Symonds' life has changed considerably in the last 48 hours. Two days ago he was a mug. Now he is a feared opponent.

Doubtless his wickets liberated his mind as he waited his turn at the crease. After blocking his first ball he stepped out and lifted his second into the crowd. Not a bad way to avoid a pair. Nerves? Did someone say something about nerves?

Continuing his onslaught, Symonds danced nimbly down the pitch and lofted the spinners into the outer. Nor was it all violence. Between times he cut delicately to third man and drove through cover. Altogether he faced 54 balls and struck six sixes and five fours.

Ricky Ponting declared earlier than expected, challenging his opponents to chase 366 in 126 overs. Unsurprisingly, the visitors struggled on a pitch favouring forceful cricket. AB De Villiers lost his balance, Graeme Smith drove loosely, Herschelle Gibbs was fooled by a top-spinner, Jacques Kallis groped at an outswinger, Jacques Rudolph was bowled between bat and pad and Mark Boucher was snaffled at silly point.

Symonds took wickets and Shane Warne dazzled. But the real damage had already been done.

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