Rabada dashes Australia’s hopes
It took just six balls on the fourth morning for Kagiso Rabada to make an impact as he ripped out Mitchell Marsh’s off stump – and with it – any hope of an unlikely win for the tourists.
Rabada dominated a large portion of the second Test, both with his spectacular bowling performance that netted him 11 wickets, as well as the fiery wicket celebrations that led to two separate Code of Conduct breaches and a two-Test ban that will rule him out for the remainder of the series.
Early chance goes begging for Aussies
If Australia were to pull off a miracle at St. George’s Park, then they needed to somehow manufacture 10 wicket-taking chances in the hope of skittling a Test side for fewer than 100 runs, a feat that have not achieved since the South Africa tour of 2011.
Opening quicks Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood made their most threatening start of the tour with the new ball and it took only five balls for the right-armer to move one away and take the edge of Aiden Markram’s bat when he was on just seven, only for Mitch Marsh to put down the simple chance at first slip.
Australia captain Steve Smith later revealed Marsh had replaced his older brother Shaun in the key catching position due to a groin injury he had picked up in the Test, but the pair soon returned to their normal fielding spots after the lunch interval.
Lyon offers a glimmer of hope
While Hazlewood and Starc continued to cause problems for Markram and Dean Elgar, captain Smith turned to Nathan Lyon to bowl the sixth over of the innings and the last of the session.
Just as he did in the series opener at Kingsmead, Lyon was quick to make an impact by extracting a leading edge from the left-handed Elgar and taking a return catch to hand the tourists their much sought-after breakthrough before the break.
AB's bag of tricks
Hazlewood eventually returned to collect the wicket of Markram, as Smith came across from second slip to take the catch in front of the elder Marsh, but the dismissal simply brought about an early encore performance from AB de Villiers.
Following up his majestic knock of 126 not out in the first innings, de Villiers quickly set about reeling in the measly target of 101 at a furious rate.
A dominant pull shot against a short ball from Hazlewood got him going and in the blink of an eye the Proteas veteran had raced to 25 off just 14 balls.
A glorious lofted drive for six, the perfect square cut and then the sweetest of straight drives – de Villiers showed off a delightful range of strokes before Cameron Bancroft held on to a chance at bat-pad off Lyon to bring an immensely entertaining innings to a close on 28 off 26 balls.
It was the first time a bowler had captured the prized scalp so far in the series – the infamous Warner run-out his only other dismissal to this point – and the Australians will be desperately hoping it’s not the last as they seek a way to curb his influence in the latter half of the series.
All square at the halfway mark
Theunis de Bruyn sealed the deal with a cover drive to the boundary to level the series at one apiece heading into the Cape Town clash.
The hosts have been dealt a massive blow with the suspension of star quick Rabada for the remainder of the series and they may now recall retiring paceman Morne Morkel after he made way for Lungi Ngidi in Port Elizabeth.
Australia will be hoping allrounder Mitch Marsh can use the extended break to overcome his groin issue, while the bowling attack will rest up in between AB-induced nightmares.
Qantas tour of South Africa
South Africa squad: Faf du Plessis (c), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Theunis de Bruyn, AB de Villiers, Dean Elgar, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Morne Morkel, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada.
Australia squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Chadd Sayers, Mitchell Starc.
Warm-up match: Australia beat South Africa A by five wickets. Report, highlights
First Test Australia won by 118 runs. Scorecard
Second Test South Africa won by six wickets. Scorecard
Third Test Newlands, Cape Town, March 22-26. Live coverage
Fourth Test Wanderers, Johannesburg, March 30-April 3. Live coverage