Johannesburg: Teenage debutant Pat Cummins showed poise beyond his years in a ‘man of the match’ performance to guide Australia to a thrilling two-wicket win in the second Test against South Africa.
South Africa 1st Innings: 266/10 in 71.0 overs.
Australia 1st Innings: 296/10 in 76.4 overs.
South Africa 2nd Innings: 339/10 in 110.0 overs.
Australia 2nd Innings: 310/8 in 86.5 overs.
Chasing 310, the largest fourth-innings target to win at Wanderers, 18-year-old debutant Cummins steered Australia to the record-breaking win with 13 late runs including the winning boundary off Imran Tahir to add to his stellar 6-79 in the second innings.
Mitchell Johnson’s heroic 40 not out with an injured foot was crucial as was Brad Haddin’s 55 before he departed, with Australia falling to 7-287 following the pair’s 72-run seventh-wicket stand.
Australia level the series with the unlikely win having stoically chipped away at the required 167 on the final day to recover from the early loss of captain Michael Clarke (2) and Ricky Ponting (62).
The closing stages made for enthralling Test cricket. Back-to-back boundaries from Johnson reduced the deficit to less than 50 and drew some concerned looks from captain Graeme Smith with four wickets left.
When Peter Siddle departed soon after Haddin, Australia still needed 23 runs with just three wickets in hand. But Johnson refused to lie down despite clearly being hampered running between wickets and fended off a string of menacing Vernon Philander deliveries.
Philander terrorised the visitors as he had done all series with the wickets of Clarke, Mike Hussey and Haddin in the second innings and received ample support at the other end from Dale Steyn.
Cummins batted courageously and survived a caught-and-bowled scare with nine runs required and a referred lbw decision off Tahir from the delivery before his winning boundary.
Earlier, a half-century from an embattled Ponting had given Australia hope at stumps on day four with the visitors still staring down a deficit of 167 runs.
Clarke and Ponting resumed at the crease on day five after Usman Khawaja had fallen on the second-last ball of day four.
It shaped as a classic in Johannesburg, with Australia at 3-142 and Ponting fighting for his life, but the hosts had the early ascendency when Clarke failed to make an impact.
The visitors desperately needed early solidarity from two of their more experienced campaigners but when Clarke fell for just two off Philander, his stumps a mess, the outlook for Australia looked gloomy.
At 4-145 Australia needed to hold firm and with Hussey striding to the crease after a lean series, the advantage was surely South Africa’s.
He was trapped lbw by Philander for 39 and it looked as though Australia’s resistance would be short lived.
But Haddin and Johnson held firm before Cummins completed what was one of the more impressive Test debuts in history.
Courtesy: Cricket Australia
Result: Australia won by 2 wickets.
Man Of The Match: Pat Cummins (Australia).
Result Of The Series: 2-match series drawn (1-1).
Man Of The Series: Vernon Philander (South Africa)
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