Dale Steyn was the architect of another Australian batting collapse as South Africa ended the second day of the second Test in Johannesburg yesterday trailing by just 30 runs with all 10 second-innings wickets intact.
Steyn took 4 for 64 in 18 overs to help bowl out Australia for 296 in reply to South Africa's first innings of 266. South Africa's second innings was then cut short by bad light after just four balls.
Australian openers Shane Watson and Phil Hughes earlier both scored 88 as the visitors soared to 174 for 0, before crashing in the afternoon session as South Africa's bowling improved considerably. Seamer Vernon Philander, playing in just his second Test, did much to turn the tide with his accurate bowling and he started the collapse when he forced Hughes to edge a back-foot drive to first slip, where AB de Villiers held on to a head-high catch.
Watson then pulled Jacques Kallis to the midwicket boundary, where Imran Tahir dived to complete a fine catch. Former captain Ricky Ponting – scouring desperately for runs in a bid to save his international career – lasted just three balls before Steyn trapped him lbw for a duck with an inswinger, leaving Australia's leading run-scorer with just 245 runs in 15 innings in the last year.
Current captain Michael Clarke and the inexperienced Usman Khawaja then took the total to 212 for 3 before the extra bounce obtained by tall fast bowler Morne Morkel undid Clarke, who was caught in the slips by De Villiers for 11.
Steyn then ensured the Australian innings remained on the skids after the tea break with two wickets in four overs, saving his best delivery of the day – a sharp inswinger – to bowl Mike Hussey for 20. Khawaja's footwork eventually let him down after a vigil of nearly two hours for 12 runs as Steyn trapped him lbw.
Steyn claimed his fourth wicket when wicketkeeper Mark Boucher took a brilliant catch to dismiss Pat Cummins for two. Mitchell Johnson's 38 not out then ensured Australia gained a small lead.