South Africa came storming back into the Test match in Johannesburg on a day of packed stands, vigorous cricket, drama and high excitement. After taking nine wickets for 156 runs, including a burst of 8 for 48 that tore the heart out of the Australian innings, the hosts batted purposefully to reach 178 for 2 at stumps, still 276 runs shy of victory but much better placed than supporters had dared to hope.
Given his time again Ricky Ponting might have chosen a balanced attack and enforced the follow-on. Instead his team staggered on the fourth morning as the ball swung around and bounced unpredictably in muggy conditions. Phil Hughes and Ponting took the score from 51 to 99 before the match turned. Ponting was solid until he flicked Jacques Kallis to deep square leg. Mike Hussey tried to pull his first ball and skied to square leg. Two balls later Michael Clarke was held at slip off Paul Harris. Next Marcus North was undone by a skidding swinger.
It took an astonishing reflex catch at leg-slip from AB de Villiers to end Hughes' knock of 75. Then Andrew McDonald drove lavishly and Mitchell Johnson guided to the cordon as the visitors subsided to 147 for 8. Now came the controversy as Brad Haddin swept at Harris, was given out by Billy Bowden and then reprieved after a referral. It was marginal so the original decision should have stood. Haddin drove two sixes before falling to Makhaya Ntini. A last-wicket partnership of 33 left the hosts to chase 454.
By now a blazing sun had dried the pitch. Graeme Smith and Neil McKenzie added 76 until the right-hander probed at an off-cutter. Smith continued to drive and cut till he pulled optimistically and paid the penalty.