Swaggering Australians drive home superiority

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A second crushing victory, by nine wickets, over fierce rivals South Africa here yesterday showed just why the current Australian XI deserve to be ranked among the best sides to have graced the Test arena.

Only Jacques Kallis, run out attempting a second risky run when on 99, showed any resolve against the hosts, who took a 2-0 lead in the series, with one match to come, starting in Sydney on Wednesday, before the three-Test return in South Africa.

The Aussies wrapped up their latest win with 40 minutes remaining on the fourth day, after knocking off the 10 runs they needed to win for the loss of Justin Langer. Australia set up the victory, which came a week after the First Test was won by 246 runs, by dismissing South Africa for 219 in their second innings.

Shane Warne, so often the wrecker-in-chief against South Africa, claimed 3 for 68, but all four bowlers used got in on the act, backed by some fine ground-fielding.

South Africa's second-innings problems began in the morning session when both openers were dismissed by Brett Lee. The out-of-form left-hander Gary Kirsten went first, edging a ball to Ricky Ponting at third slip for 10.

Herschelle Gibbs was then out for 21 after getting a bottom edge to an attempted square cut, with wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist taking a smart low catch.

The luckless Boeta Dippenaar was next to go. The victim of stunning catches by Ponting in the First Test and Matthew Hayden in the first innings here, he clipped a delivery from Warne away on the leg side only for the ball to go straight into Hayden's midriff at short leg. Almost unbelievably, and after much thrashing of arms and elbows, it stuck, and Dippenaar departed for 23.

It was in the second session that Australia turned the screw, taking four wickets for just 61 runs as Kallis ran out of partners for the second Test in succession.

Both captains felt South Africa had failed to cope with the pressure produced by the hosts in a series that had been hyped as the world Test championship, but which has shown Australia to be in a class of their own.

"Their rating of the No 1 team is totally justified," Shaun Pollock said. "It's very disappointing. I don't think we've played as well as we can. I think we did put too much pressure on ourselves.

"We've been inferior to them in all parts. We have been outplayed."

Steve Waugh, fined half his match fee after showing dissent to umpire Darrell Hair in a run-out decision on Friday, was understandably delighted with the performance of his players.

"Overall, it was excellent. We've had them under pressure constantly and it's always hard to produce the goods in that situation," he said.

"I like to think it was a lot of our good cricket, and some of their batsmen haven't had a lot of experience playing against Australia. It wouldn't have done them much good psychologically, it was pretty comprehensive, this victory."