Johannesburg: Australia pulled off a thrilling two wicket victory over South Africa in the fiercely contested second Test to square the series 1-1.
Eighteen-year-old debutant Pat Cummins (13), after surviving a close leg before call off leg spinner Imran Tahir, sent the next ball to the mid-wicket fence, sparking jubilant scenes in the Australian team.
Australia thus completed the highest successful run chase (310) at the Wanderers, 11 days after their embarrassing defeat at Newlands in Cape Town where they were bowled out for their lowest Test score (47) in 109 years.
The gripping fifth day was full of twists and turns and had the spectators on the edge of their seats. Mitchell Johnson (40 off 47 balls) and Brad Haddin (55) showed tremendous courage to stand the fire the Dale Steyn and score 72 runs for the seventh wicket that proved decisive in the end.
Australia resumed the day on 142 for three, 168 runs short of the target. Ricky Ponting departed for a well-made 62 and the tourists were reduced to 222/6 at tea, leaving the enthralling match in the balance with all four results possible.
Haddin and Michael Hussey (39) survived a torrid spell from Steyn, who relentlessly probed the batsmen with his pace and swing. They put on 50 runs, before fast bowler Vernon Philander, South Africa’s find of the series, removed Hussey.
Haddin and Johnson then changed gears and counterpunched with authority. Johnson struck six fours, choosing to hit past Steyn and Morne Morkel a couple of times with a straight bat.
Just when it seemed they have got a hold of the match, South Africa bounced back with the new ball. Philander again did the job, getting an edge of Haddin to wicket-keeper Mark Boucher.
South Africa then stepped up the pressure with Steyn steaming in at Johnson and Peter Siddle. He got the wicket of Siddle, but Cummins survived 15 balls, and hit two fours to register a fine victory in the company of Johnson.
Philander was declared the Man of the Series for taking 14 wickets while debutant Cummins, who got seven wickets, including six in the second innings, was named the Man of the Match.
“What an amazing series for all the supporters of Test cricket. Some ups and downs throughout the series, but it has been really exciting,” said Australian captain Michael Clarke.
South African captain Graeme Smith said the two teams have closely fought the last few series.
“It’s good advertisement for Test cricket, and it was no different this time. They played really well today. It is wonderful to see Test cricket played like this, but right now there is disappointment with the result.”