Du Plessis the hero as Proteas cling on for draw
Du Plessis the hero as Proteas cling on for draw
Man-of-the-match Du Plessis occupied the crease for almost eight hours in a feat of physical and mental endurance to ensure the Proteas avoided defeat and took the three-Test series to a decider starting in Perth on Friday.
Australia must win the series to take the world No.1 ranking from South Africa.
“We tried everything in our power. We had a red-hot crack. It was unfortunate we didn’t get over the line,” said Australia skipper Michael Clarke.
“But we didn’t lose the Test so we can take a lot of positives out of that. We have to make sure physically we are as well prepared as we can for a crucial Test in Perth.” In a gripping finish, lion-hearted fast bowler Peter Siddle had Dale Steyn caught at mid-wicket for a duck and then bowled Rory Kleinveldt (3) with a yorker.
Siddle gave everything in the final over of the Test in search of the last two wickets but Morne Morkel held on.
It was the second time the South Africans had batted out for a draw in the series after denying Australia’s unlikely victory push in the Brisbane opener earlier this month.
“It’s (the draw) really a strengthening point for us considering we haven’t played very well,” said South African skipper Graeme Smith.
“We had another couple of big injuries in this Test match that created a hassle for us and we still managed to scrap through after not being in great positions.” Du Plessis finished unconquered on 110 with Morkel not out on eight in South Africa’s 248 for eight.
“I just tried to keep my game plan very simple. Make them bowl at me and just take it an hour by an hour,” he said.
“If you looked at it yesterday, it was quite a long way away. AB (de Villiers) and Jacques (Kallis) really helped me a lot. They kept me calm, especially in the 90s.” Du Plessis, who scored 78 in the first innings, was at the crease for 464 minutes and faced 376 balls in his draining knock.
The 28-year-old several times sought on-field physio treatment for cramps.
“I think it just makes it a little bit more sweeter. One day when I look back, I can say I pushed through the physical side of things,” he said.
He was dropped on 94 on the penultimate ball before tea when wicketkeeper Matthew Wade failed to hold onto a tough chance while standing up to the stumps to paceman Hilfenhouse.
Du Plessis also survived two reviews after being given out by umpire Billy Bowden.
The first was when he was on 33 when he padded up without offering a shot to Michael Clarke’s spin. The review found the ball pitched just outside the line.
Du Plessis was given out again after an lbw appeal by Clarke on 37, but another review showed there was no contact with the pad and the debutant batted on.
The all-rounder’s joy at reaching his milestone was tempered by the loss of the injury-restricted Kallis five balls later.
Kallis was caught off bat and pad at short leg by Ed Cowan from Nathan Lyon for 46 to end a gritty 99-run stand in 149 minutes with du Plessis.
The champion all-rounder played an invaluable knock even though restricted in his mobility by a hamstring injury.
The Proteas lost the wicket of AB de Villiers shortly after lunch when he was bowled by Peter Siddle for 33 with one that nipped back to clip off-stump.
De Villiers faced 220 balls in his stoic boundary-less knock in a study of concentration, putting on 89 runs for the fifth wicket with du Plessis in 68 overs.
The Proteas gave no thought to chasing down a huge and unlikely victory target of 430, scoring just 135 runs on the final day off 67 overs up to tea.
Skipper Smith paid tribute to his team’s fighting performance.
“You had that little bit of hope this morning, but at four down last night, you know probably the writing is on the wall,” he said.
“For me it was incredible to see the guys who represented us out there today, the skill, determination and the pride they took in their performances.”
Australia (first innings): 550
South Africa (first innings): 388
Australia (second innings): 267 for 8 decl.
South Africa (second innings):
A. Petersen b Siddle 24
G. Smith c Ponting b Hilfenhaus 0
H. Amla c Clarke b Lyon 17
J. Rudolph c Cowan b Lyon 3
AB de Villiers b Siddle 33
F. du Plessis not out 110
J. Kallis c Cowan b Lyon 46
D. Steyn c Quiney b Siddle 0
R. Kleinveldt b Siddle 3
M. Morkel not out 8
Total: (for 8 wkts) 248
Fall of wkts: 1-3, 2-36, 3-45, 4-45, 5-134, 6-233, 7-234, 8-240.
Bowling: Hilfenhaus 34-16-65-1, Siddle 33-15-65-4 (1nb), Clarke 18-5-34-0, Lyon 50-31-49-3, Warner 6-0-29-0, Quiney 6-3-4-0 (1w), Ponting 1-1-0-0.
Heartbreak for Mohamed Salah and Egypt as Russia all but secure last-16 spot
ST. PETERSBURG: Russia scored three goals in a 15-minute span early in the second half to set up a 3-1 win over Egypt on Tuesday, moving the host nation to the brink of the World Cup’s knockout stage.
Mohamed Salah won and converted a penalty for a consolation goal on his return from injury but Egypt’s first World Cup in 28 years could be over in barely five days following a second straight loss.
Ahmed Fathi poked the ball into his own net — the fifth own-goal of the tournament — to put Russia ahead in the 47th minute. Then Denis Cheryshev and Artyom Dzyuba scored in quick succession to leave Russia on course for a victory that followed up a 5-0 opening-night win over Saudi Arabia.
It was Cheryshev’s third goal of the World Cup, putting him tied with Cristiano Ronaldo at the top of the scoring chart.
Russia’s place in the round of 16 will be assured if Uruguay wins or draws against the Saudis on Wednesday. Those two scenarios would also eliminate Egypt, which started with a 1-0 loss to Uruguay.
The hopes of 100 million Egyptians were raised when Salah was selected in the starting lineup, the Liverpool forward making his comeback after 3 1/2 weeks out with damaged ligaments in his left shoulder after a tangle with Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos in the Champions League final.
Salah trotted out for his pre-match warmup to roars from Egypt fans, who at times appeared to outnumber their Russian counterparts. They shouted every time Salah’s face flashed up on the big screen and when his name was announced before kickoff.
Yet from the start, it was clear that Salah was staying out of anything too physical and there was no concerted effort from his Egypt teammates to pick him out each time. He didn’t touch the ball until the seventh minute.
He did win the penalty — confirmed by the video assistant referee after Salah was pulled down by Roman Zobnin. He converted it in the 73rd minute, but it wasn’t enough. Egypt is still without a victory in six World Cup matches.
Russia is nearly assured of advancing from the group stage for the first time since the Soviet era.
Cheryshev, who entered the World Cup as a fringe player, is proving lethal in front of goal, with his latest a side-footed effort from close range from Mario Fernandes’ cross in the 59th. Dzyuba’s goal was more direct, the striker chesting down a long ball from defender Ilya Kutepov, beating his marker and curling home a low finish.