Australian pace decimates South Africa in first Test

February 16, 2014 - 1:25:00 am

Australia’s Mitchell Johnson responds to comments from South African fans during the fourth day of their first cricket Test match in Pretoria yesterday.

PRETORIA: Mitchell Johnson bowled Australia to a comprehensive 281-run victory over South Africa after taking his match haul to 12 wickets on the fourth day of the first Test at SuperSport Park yesterday.

The fiery paceman added five wickets to the seven he snapped up in the first innings as Australia went 1-0 up in the three-Test series by bowling out the hosts for 200.

Johnson’s figures of 12 for 127 beat his previous best Test return of 11 for 159 against South Africa in Perth in 2008.

“You never play a perfect game but it felt really good out there today,” he told reporters.

The tourists, maintaining the form they showed in last month’s 5-0 Ashes whitewash of England, completely outplayed the world’s top-ranked test team.

Earlier, Australia declared on 290 for four after resuming on 288 for three.

Left-arm quickie Johnson then took over with the ball, looking almost unplayable at times with his raw pace and disconcerting bounce.

He had Alviro Petersen caught behind for one with his fifth ball before adding the prized wicket of captain Graeme Smith (four) as South Africa slumped to 12 for two. Petersen’s dismissal marked the 250th Test wicket for the 32-year-old.

Johnson’s third victim came just before tea when JP Duminy was brilliantly caught at short leg by Alex Doolan for 10.

He then dismissed Ryan McLaren, caught behind for six off a vicious rising delivery, and AB de Villiers.

De Villiers top-scored in both innings for South Africa, making 91 in the first and 48 in the second before Steve Smith snaffled a reflex catch at short cover.

Last man Morne Morkel’s ignominious run out for one ended the game, a reflection of the cricket produced by the home side throughout the match.

“We did not meet expectations and we deserve every bit (of abuse) that comes our way. It is one of the most disappointing four days we’ve had as a team,” said South Africa skippe Smith.

Meanwhile, Australian captain  Michael Clarke said winning the Ashes was a big boost for Australia but being able to win a series away would be proper affirmation of their ability. 

“The greatest test for us right now is being able to consistently win away from home,” he told reporters after his team romped to a 281-run triumph in the first game of the three-match series.

“We’ve been very comfortable back in Australia and had a good win in the Ashes against England last month but we’ve found it tough away,” said Clarke after South Africa were bowled out for 200 on the fourth day.

“We were beaten 4-0 in India and lost in England last year and that’s why this series is such a challenge for us. We are playing the best test team in the world, certainly the best attack I’ve ever faced, and we have to be at our best all day every day.”

Clarke was effusive in his praise of the Australian players.

“I see in my team mates’ eyes at the moment that they are so hungry for success. Our attitude now is unbelievable,” he said. “We played in this game as good a brand of cricket as we had over the last couple of months. We were perhaps a little short with the ball in the first innings but executed well in the second. It was quite a nasty wicket, it was a good toss to lose.” The second Test in Port Elizabeth starts on Thursday. REUTERS

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