Du Plessis scripts the Great South African Escape
South Africa entered day five staring at defeat. Australia needed six wickets to wrap things up, and they had to get through AB DeVilliers, Faf Du Plessis, the injured Jacques Kallis and the bowlers. Michael Clarke would have fancied his chances. Instead, South Africa scripted one of the greatest escapes in recent cricket history, and Du Plessis on his début became a South African hero.
First Session started off with AB DeVillers and Faf Du Plessis continuing their resistance. They had survived a small matter of 29 overs yesterday, and scored 32 runs. AB in particular defended everything thrown at him. The grinding down of the attack continued in the morning session. Siddle, Lyon, Hilfenhaus and Clarke tried their luck, but nothing could budge them. A few close DRS calls went South Africa’s way. The flat nature of the pitch was helping the South African cause as well. The new ball was taken. There wasn’t any change of luck for the Aussies. They were missing Pattinson’s services. AB and Faf’s stonewalling continued till lunch. South Africa had made 49 runs in the session and were on 126/4. AB was on 31* and Faf on 49*.
Post Lunch Session started with Faf gathering a streaky boundary and reaching his second half century in his debut test. AB DeVillers marathon innings finally ended as Siddle bowled one of his trademark full swinging deliveries, and castled him. AB was gone for 33 of 220 balls. An amazing innings considering his natural attacking instincts. His innings was also the longest innings in terms of number of balls faced without scoring a boundary, beating Jimmy Adams 212 ball innings. In came the big man, Jacques Kallis. He scored a half century in the first innings with an injured hamstring. He was back again, trying to bat out 3 and half hours to save the match for South Africa. He started off with a confident boundary of Lyon. Du Plessis on the other end was playing the innings of a lifetime. The kind of application and patience he showed for a debutant was terrific. He kept gathering runs at a snail pace, with a few boundaries stitched in between. Quiney and Warner had a go as well, but Kallis, Du Plessis were immovable. These two kept going strong till tea. South Africa had crawled their way to 212/5 at tea. Kallis on 38* and Faf on 94*.
Final Session of the day An Intriguing two hours with Australia looking to force a win, and South Africa looking to save it. Du Plessis was closing in on his debut hundred, and Kallis was fighting through the pain barrier for his team. It was Test Cricket at its absolute best. Siddle and Hifenhaus were extracting some reverse swing. There were lots of oohs and aahs from the Aussies. But the Proteas batsmen just could not be budged. Lyon came in to try his luck. Faf was in his 90s for nearly 80 minutes. His century finally came with a drive through covers of Hilfenhaus. It took 310 balls for him, and he had batted nearly a day. Unbelievable powers of patience for someone considered to be a limited overs specialist. The South African joy was cut short as Kallis was gone next over. Lyon had him caught at short leg by Ed Cowan. Kallis was gone for 46 after yet another brave resistance.
With about 70 minutes to go and just the bowlers left, Australia were looking to go for the kill. Faf kept going strong. Steyn started his own stonewalling. Each over survived was gold for South Africa. To add drama to the proceedings, Du Plessis had suffered cramps in his leg and was not finding it easy. Australia got a huge breakthrough as Steyn played a leg stump full toss, only for quiney to pluck a smart catch at short mid-wicket. Rory Kleinveldt was the next batsman. South Africa had eight overs to play out. The crowd was well and truly into the game. South Africa was not looking to score runs. They just kept prodding playing out time.
With 15 minutes left, Siddle, who had nothing left in his tank, came in for one last burst. And, he delivered. A perfect in-swinging Yorker went through the defenses of Kleinveldt. Morne Morkel walked in with a couple more overs to defend. Lyon couldn’t do much damage against Faf Du Plessis. The lionhearted Siddle came in for yet another over. Morne Morkel played it our nervously. The Aussie players were rushing, looking to squeeze in more overs. Du Plessis played out yet another Lyon over. And, yet again It was Peter Siddle taking the ball for the last over of the match. He bowled Yorkers, bouncers, length balls, everything. Morkel managed to just about play it out. South Africa had done it. An Amazing Test Match had come to a fitting end.
So, the teams go into Perth with the series still level at 0-0. Australia would feel bitter that they couldn’t close down this match in Adelaide. They were on top for almost the entire match, but they couldn’t get past the Du Plessis wall. Peter Siddle and Faf Du Plessis are two players who have done their reputation no harm at all as the test drew to an end.