South Africa overcame the loss of star paceman Dale Steyn to another shoulder injury to produce a stunning comeback on the second day of the opening Test against Australia in Perth on Friday.
In reply to South Africa’s 242, Australia were cruising at 158 for none early on day two, but then lost all 10 wickets for just 86 runs to lead by only two after the first innings.
At stumps on the second day, the visitors were 104 for two, an overall lead of 102 and arguably in the favoured position in the match, which seemed unthinkable 24 hours earlier. Dean Elgar was on 46 and JP Duminy was on 34.
Tha pair had added 59 after the Proteas lost two early second innings wickets, but their remarkable fightback was soured by news that Steyn would miss the remainder of the series. Steyn left the field for scans on his troublesome right shoulder before lunch, just after claiming the wicket of Australian opener David Warner for 97, and did not return for the remainder of the innings. In his absence, Vernon Philander (4-56), Kagiso Rabada (2-78) and debutant spinner Keshav Maharaj (3-56) exposed the home side’s batting frailty.
Australia, who were in total control before Warner fell, then lost four wickets for just 23 runs.
Warner has 768 runs in Tests in Perth at 96 apiece and his opening partnership with Shaun Marsh (63) was a record for Australia against the Proteas at the ground.
The dashing left-hander appeared certain to score his fourth Test century at the venue, but was caught at first slip by Hashim Amla and his dismissal sparked a remarkable period of play.
Just eight runs later, Steyn left the field mid-over, after appearing to reinjure his troublesome right shoulder in an around-the-wicket delivery to Usman Khawaja.
One run later, Khawaja joined Warner back in the pavilion when he was clean-bowled by young paceman Rabada for four. South African hopes were further boosted when Australian captain Steve Smith was the victim of a highly contentious lbw decision for a duck.