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.
‘Good, but not good enough’: Juan Antonio Pizzi on Saudi Arabia’s defeat to Uruguay
- A Luis Suaréz goal midway through the first half gave Uruguay a 1-0 win
- Pizzi had spoken passionately about the need for his side to demonstrate a higher level of focus and performance
ROSTOV-ON-DON: Good, but not good enough.
That was what Juan Antonio Pizzi stated as he declared himself pleased with his team’s performance in the 1-0 defeat to Uruguay on Wednesday night.
But he lamented his side’s lack of firepower as they exited the World Cup after just two matches.
Pizzi had spoken passionately about the need for his side to demonstrate a higher level of focus and performance in Rostov-on-Don after losing their opening game 5-0 to hosts Russia in Moscow last week.
The Argentine got his wish with a display that saw the Green Falcons fight throughout and edge possession against a Uruguay side ranked 14th in the world.
A Luis Suaréz goal midway through the first half after poor goalkeeping from Mohammed Al-Owais, however, was enough to hand the Green Falcons a 12th successive World Cup defeat.
The result means that even with a win against Egypt on Monday, the Green Falcons are no longer capable of progressing to the knock-out stages from Group A.
“We had a lot of ball possession and were able to impose our style of play and distribution,” said Pizzi. “We conceded a goal from a random play and didn’t have the weapons or tools to try to equalize. We kept the ball well and weren’t really troubled defensively, but lacked that ability to score.”
Indeed, for all their possession, Saudi Arabia have managed just three shots on target in 180 minutes of football. Against Russia, they failed to muster a single effort on target and the managed just three against Uruguay, two of which came in the final minutes when they knew they had to score or face elimination. None of the three shots came from a striker.
“This is our weakness. We have good ball possession, but no effectiveness. We lack the depth and skill required to win these games,” Pizzi added. “We have that deficiency and have looked for solutions, but we haven’t quite come up with one yet. But that is one of the reasons great forward are in high demand and are the elite players in world football.”
Pizzi had made four changes ahead of the match, dropping goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf in favor of Al-Owais and introducing Ali Al-Bulayhi at the heart of the defense alongside Osama Hawsawi. Further upfield, Hattan Bahberi came in for Yahya Al-Shehri and Fahad Al-Muwallad replaced Mohammed Al-Sahlawi. The changes, particularly the inclusion of Bahberi, seemed to give the side more impetus in midfield.
“The difference between the performance in the first game and this game is enormous,” Pizzi said. “The only way to compete at this level is to play at the level we did here. And even then it was not enough even to get a draw. Undoubtedly there were other factors aside from the pressure of playing in the opening game that made a difference, but it’s true that the difference was enormous.”
Many critics had predicted a deluge of goals from the likes of Suarez and Cavani, yet both were kept at bay. Save for a couple of half-chances early on, neither came close to scoring until the 23rd minute.
A corner from Carlos Sanchez sailed into the area and when Al-Owais came for it but failed to connect with his punch, Barcelona forward Suaréz was left with the simplest of tap-ins. He was so caught off-guard, he actually looked surprised as he reeled away in celebration.
“I believe you cannot be relaxed in any match,” Suarez said when asked by a Uruguayan journalist whether he had taken it easy against the Saudis.
“We wanted to win and to progress to the knock-out stage and this game simply showed how difficult it is. That’s the World Cup for you though and we are obviously delighted with how we have performed so far to progress.”
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez did not share his striker’s sentiments.
“Saudi Arabia wanted to excel and give a better account of themselves after losing to Russia,” he said.
“They did that very well and we have to respect them. But what surprised me the most is how we played. We underperformed.”