PERTH, Australia: South Africa overcame the loss of star paceman Dale Steyn to another shoulder injury to produce a stunning comeback on the second day of the opening Test against Australia in Perth Friday.
In reply to South Africa’s 242, Australia were cruising at 158 for none early on day two, but then lost all 10 wickets for just 86 runs to lead by only two after the first innings.
At stumps on the second day, the visitors were 104 for two, an overall lead of 102 and arguably in the favoured position in the match, which seemed unthinkable 24 hours earlier.
Dean Elgar was on 46 and JP Duminy was on 34.
The pair had added 59 after the Proteas lost two early second innings wickets, but their remarkable fightback was soured by news that Steyn would miss the remainder of the series.
Steyn left the field for scans on his troublesome right shoulder before lunch, just after claiming the wicket of Australian opener David Warner for 97, and did not return for the remainder of the innings.
The 33-year-old hurt the same shoulder late last year and missed several months of cricket, and it was confirmed late in the day he had a crack in a bone and would not take further part in the three-Test series.
He faces surgery and is likely to be sidelined for at least six months.
Steyn pulled up sore after the fourth ball of his 13th over, having been by far the most menacing of the South African bowlers to that stage.
With 417 Test wickets, Steyn is just four shy of Shaun Pollock’s record haul for South Africa.
In his absence, Vernon Philander (4-56), Kagiso Rabada (2-78) and debutant spinner Keshav Maharaj (3-56) exposed the home side’s batting frailty.
Philander said the loss of Steyn motivated the Proteas.
“We had a job in hand to get the Aussies out as cheap as possible and it was a job well done by the rest of the bowlers.”
Philander said he was also keen to atone after his no-ball cost the Proteas the early wicket of Warner on the first day.
Australia, who were in total control before Warner fell, then lost four wickets for just 23 runs.
Warner said the collapse continued a frustrating trend of middle order collapses for the Australians.
“I feel there has been a trend for 12 or 18 months and it is tough to see as an opening batter when we fall away that easily. We have to knuckle down as a batting unit and build partnerships.”
Warner has 768 runs in Tests in Perth at 96 apiece and his opening partnership with Shaun Marsh (63) was a record for Australia against the Proteas at the ground.
The dashing left-hander appeared certain to score his fourth Test century at the venue, but was caught at first slip by Hashim Amla and his dismissal sparked a remarkable period of play.
Just eight runs later, Steyn left the field mid-over, after reinjuring his troublesome right shoulder in an around-the-wicket delivery to Usman Khawaja.
One run later, Khawaja joined Warner back in the pavilion when he was clean-bowled by young paceman Rabada for four.
South African hopes were further boosted when Australian captain Steve Smith was the victim of a highly contentious lbw decision for a duck.
Smith advanced well down the wicket to Maharaj and was struck on the knee roll.
He was visibly shocked to be adjudged out by veteran umpire Aleem Dar, who has already made a number of controversial decisions in the match.
The Australian skipper called for a decision review, which showed the ball just clipping the outside of the stumps, which is out under new rules introduced recently.
Marsh was then the fourth Australian to fall, trapped lbw by Philander for 63.
He failed to get the decision overturned and cost his side their second and last decision review, a move which came back to haunt them when Peter Nevill (23) appeared to be incorrectly given out.-AFP