Proteas battling to avoid heavy defeat to Australia
Proteas battling to avoid heavy defeat to Australia
South Africa’s remote hopes of defying history nosedived with the loss of four wickets, including those of skipper Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla, to leave the Proteas battling for survival today.
Australia need to win the three-Test series to take the world number one ranking off South Africa with the final Test starting in Perth on Friday.
At the close of the fourth day, South Africa were 77 for four off 50 overs with AB de Villiers on 12 and debutant Faf du Plessis not out 19.
The odds were already firmly stacked against the South Africans as they needed to set a new record for a successful fourth innings run chase at the Adelaide Oval.
The existing record is the 315-6 Australia scored 110 years ago to overhaul England, while the Test record-winning chase is 418 set by the West Indies over Australia in 2003.
Australian paceman Peter Siddle had extra reason to celebrate his 28th birthday Sunday as Australia neared a prestigious win.
“Obviously we’re in a good position, there’s still a lot of work tomorrow morning to be done but I think if we can stick to the same stuff we did this afternoon we can finish on a good note,” Siddle said.
It was a different mood in the Proteas camp.
“The guys know what they have to do. It’s the highest chase in the history of the game if it was to be achieved,” Proteas assistant coach Russell Domingo said.
“It is far away, but South Africans pride themselves on our resilience and we’re going to fight right through to the end, but we know that 350-odd runs on the last day, four wickets down, (a win) is probably out of the window.” The Australians, bowling with a full head of steam despite the loss of young firebrand paceman James Pattinson, quickly rammed home the advantage of their massive lead.
Pattinson was Sunday ruled out for the remainder of the home Test season with a left side strain after coming off the field on Saturday’s third day.
Australia had South Africa under the pump, taking the wickets of Smith and Amla inside the opening 12 overs to leave the tourists in deep trouble in their daunting run chase.
Smith, who scored 122 in the first innings, was out second ball when he got a thick edge to a Ben Hilfenhaus outswinger and Ricky Ponting snapped up a splendid low catch at second slip.
It was also a psychological blow as the Proteas have not lost a Test match in the previous 25 matches in which talisman Smith has scored a century.
Amla was taken at slip by a juggling Clarke off spinner Nathan Lyon for 17, nine balls before tea.
Both Smith and Amla were match-changing scalps for the Australians because of their ability to occupy the crease and bat for long periods.
The wickets continued to tumble with Jacques Rudolph again out cheaply for three, caught at short leg by Ed Cowan off Lyon for the off-spinner’s 50th Test wicket.
Alviro Petersen was out seven balls later when he got an inside edge off Siddle onto his stumps for 24 and the Proteas were 45 for four.
De Villiers and du Plessis dug in and it took 30 overs before they claimed their first boundary, when du Plessis edged off Siddle.
Skipper Clarke declared Australia’s second innings halfway through the day with Pattinson not out 29 and Hilfenhaus on 18.
Senior Australian batsman Mike Hussey, chasing his third successive century in the series, was out in the over before lunch for 54 off 95 balls. It was his 29th Test half-century.
Hussey attempted to pull Morne Morkel but the ball came off high on his bat to spoon a catch to Dale Steyn at midwicket.
Clarke, who scored 230 in the first innings, fell leg before wicket to Steyn for 38.
Juan Antonio Pizzi picks little-known striker in search of more Saudi Arabia firepower
Al-Qadisiyah’s 20-year-old striker Haroun Kamara has been given an opportunity to stake an unlikely claim for a World Cup spot after being surprisingly named in Juan Antonio Pizzi’s squad for a three-week training camp in Spain.
Kamara, who was born in Jeddah to Guinean parents, has only made seven league appearances for lowly Al-Qadisiyah, scoring four goals and claiming two assists, but he has been given the chance to shine in friendlies against Algeria on May 9 and Greece six days later and book a seat on the plane to Russia.
The youngster follows in the footsteps of the likes of Somalian-British Mukhtar Ali and Egyptian Ahmed Al-Fiqi as the Saudi Football Federation look to harness the pool of players born in the Kingdom to expats and increase the depth of the Green Falcons’ squad.
Pizzi has turned to Kamara having struggled to find options in attack. Hazza Al-Hazza and Mujahid Al-Mania, who were both given their debuts over the past six months, have failed to convince upfront, while Mohannad Assiri has just one goal for his country in more than seven years. Mohammed Al-Sahlawi, who has 26 goals in 33 internationals, is favorite to lead the line, but Pizzi needs more options in attack.
In goal, Yasir Al-Mosaileem, Mohammed Al-Owais and Fawaz Al-Qarni retain their place in the squad, while Al-Nassr’s Waleed Abdullah, who featured in the last squad, made way for Al-Hilal’s Abdullah Al-Mayouf. Only three goalkeepers will be selected for the final 23-man squad.
In defense, Ali Al-Bulayhi is in line for a debut, having established himself as a key player at the heart of Al-Hilal defense, while Mohammed Al-Burayk’s performances at right-back for the Blues earned him a recall to the squad for the first time under Pizzi, replacing Hassan Muath.
The three Hawsawis — Osama, Omar and Motaz — retain their places as do full-backs Yasir Al-Shahrani, Mansour Al-Harbi and Saeed Al-Muwallad. The backline is edging closer to taking shape as Mohammed Jahfali, who was first brought into the squad in March’s friendlies against Ukraine and Belgium, looks to have done enough to convince Pizzi to hand him a second opportunity.
There were no real surprises in midfield as the team is boosted by the recovery of two high-profile names. Nawaf Al-Abed makes his long-awaited return to the national team set-up, having suffered an injury in November’s ill-fated Portugal camp under the now departed coach Edgardo Bauza. Al-Abed’s Al-Hilal teammate, Salman Al-Faraj, is also back in the squad after recovering from a three-month injury lay-off.
Spain-based trio Fahad Al-Muwallad, Yahya Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari miss out due to club commitments.