The Proteas were absolutely magnificent on day two in Perth, dragging themselves back from the abyss against the Aussies. Here’s how they did it.
1. Dale Steyn removing Warner to hit the top ten
What a reliable old stick he is when fit. Steyn toiled through the first hour, switched ends and finally drew the critical edge from David Warner, who was on 97 and on the brink of unleashing hell. The wicket was the 33-year-old’s 417th in Tests, taking him into the top bracket of bowlers in history.
2. Steyn’s shoulder giving way
It was only a few deliveries later that things turned sour. Steyn went down on his haunches after an innocuous delivery. He was escorted straight off the field and taken to hospital for a scan on the right shoulder that has been bothering him for a year. A grim sight and, at 33, a real body blow for South Africa’s talisman – who has been ruled out of the rest of the series.
3. Faf du Plessis receiving a bollocking from the umpires
We can’t be sure what it was about, but the skipper was hauled in front of the beak early on, quite probably for his men cranking up the verbals around the bat. Not a game-changer by any means, but nice to know the mongrel is there.
4. Rabada’s maturity…
He got it wrong on the first day. They all did. But young Kagiso stepped up manfully after Steyn’s departure had reduced the Proteas to three front-line bowlers. He probed a full length, while keeping the batsmen guessing with the occasional bouncer and yorker.
He was justly rewarded with the scalps of Usman Khawaja and Adam Voges – bowled and caught and bowled – as he led the attack with more overs (20) than anyone else.
5. … and Philander’s extra maturity
If Rabada was a good cheddar, Philander was the finest, vintage camembert (cheese – mature – geddit?) The old boy led by example, rumbling in time and time again to take four for 56, while conceding under three runs an over. He’s going to be even more important second time around with Steyn done for.
6. Maharaj’s controlling spell on debut
Warner slapped three boundaries off the rookie’s final over on day one, which was ominous. It really could have gone either way today but, with the dangerman gone, the Dolphins star settled into a 16-over spell that not only tied down an end, but yielded three wickets. That should settle him down, then.
7. Aleem Dar’s trigger finger
Feeling brave with the DRS to
save his skin prove him right, the Pakistani umpire dispatched Australian captain Steve Smith, who was rapped on the pad after skipping down the track to Maharaj. He’d never have given it before HD replays.
Peter Nevill’s supposed edge looked distinctly like a pad, too, but who cares? We’re voting him man of the year!
8. Dean Elgar hitting Nathan Lyon back over his head for six
Elgar began doggedly alongside Stephen Cook as the Proteas came out with only a two-run deficit. Unlike his struggling opening partner, though, he was prepared to branch out here and there.
He’d already taken a couple of authoritative boundaries off the spinner, before shuffling down the track to clear the ropes and the tension.
9. Seeing it out until the close
After the carnage earlier in the day, this may seem a trifle uneventful. But the comeback would have been rendered meaningless is the top order had crumbled for a second time. Cook and Amla failed once more, but Elgar and Duminy worked extremely hard to forge an unbroken 50-partnership to put South Africa on top at the end of an amazing day.