Australia claimed a 162-run victory over the Proteas in Johannesburg to assume a 1-0 lead in the series.
South Africa fought back at the end of day four, and on the final morning Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis had played their team into a position where a win was very possible. But Amla’s departure marked the end of that ambition while the subsequent wickets of AB de Villiers and Kallis meant a draw was increasingly unlikely. South Africa went to lunch at 247-5 and with a lengthy tail were set for a trying afternoon session.
After the break, JP Duminy edged a Peter Siddle delivery to Ricky Ponting at slip while Morne Morkel was proactive in miscuing a slog to Phillip Hughes at midwicket. It was left to Mark Boucher to battle it out with the bowlers, and with a session-and-a-half remaining, it was always going to be too much to ask.
Boucher was bowled by Ben Hilfenhaus just before tea, a breakthrough that marked the beginning of the end. Rain clouds gathered around The Wanderers, but unfortunately for the hosts, Mother Nature would be doing them no favours.
Paul Harris was caught at short leg right after the interval, Siddle the bowler once again. Mitchell Johnson grabbed his fourth and the victory when he castled Dale Steyn the very next over.
The Aussies travel to Durban having won the last two Tests, namely this fixture and the thriller in Sydney. South Africa are under immense pressure to perform at Kingsmead, as a loss would signify a series defeat on home soil. The Aussies are lacking two frontline bowlers in Brett Lee and Stuart Clark and recently lost Matthew Hayden to retirement. For them to record a series victory in South Africa with an understrength side would be a remarkable achievement and reaffirm their status as the world’s No 1-ranked Test team.
Australia 466 (1st innings)
Marcus North 117, Mitchell Johnson 96*, Ricky Ponting 83, Dale Steyn 4-113
South Africa 220 (1st innings)
AB de Villiers 104*, Neil McKenzie 36, Mitchell Johnson 4-25, Peter Siddle 3-76
Australia 207 (2nd innings)
Phil Hughes 75, Brad Haddin 37, Jacques Kallis 3-22, Makhaya Ntini 3-52
South Africa 291 (2nd innings)
Graeme Smith 69, Hashim Amla 57, Mitchell Johnson 4-112, Peter Siddle 3-46
Australia won by 162 runs.
For the full scorecard click here.