The Proteas took four quick wickets to peg Australia back to 181-4 at lunch, but Dale Steyn is off the field with a shoulder injury.
The tourists took four wickets in the space of 11 overs to get right back into this contest, but whether they can continue to chip away in the fashion they have now remains to be seen, as they were rocked by Steyn’s exit from the ground.
Four balls into his 13th over, the paceman was on his haunches in agony, and the clutching of the shoulder was an all-too familiar sign of problems from the past. He was unable to continue, and his teammates will wait nervously to see if he will play any further part.
At least he took David Warner back with him to the pavilion. The over before he was forced off, Warner edged one to Hashim Amla in the slips, three runs short of what would have been a 17th Test century and fifth against the Proteas in just 12 innings. With that wicket, Steyn went into top-10 Test wicket takers of all time, joining Harbhajan Singh on 417 scalps.
What his injury could now mean though is that Faf du Plessis will have to work with just two seamers and one frontline spinner. Though the skipper could not have foreseen Steyn’s injury, it begs the question why he came on for a second spell so early in the morning session, and it prompts further questions as to why Morne Morkel wasn’t selected as a fourth seamer.
Ironically, the visitors made huge inroads when Steyn walked off. Warner’s wicket spelt the end of a potentially match-defining 158-run stand with Shaun Marsh. Five overs later, Kagiso Rabada bowled a screamer to remove Usman Khawaja’s stumps for four.
Keshav Maharaj was finally introduced into the attack and he struck almost immediately, albeit in questionable circumstances. Australia skipper Steve Smith danced down the wicket, only for the ball to strike his pads. Umpire Aleem Dar saw enough there to give him out, and the resultant review revealed it was feathering the top of leg stump. It was later revealed that Smith was 2.8m out of his crease – which used to be enough to overturn the decision. The rules now state 3m or more.
Smith trudged back, visibly furious at the decision, but it would get worse for the hosts. Marsh, going along extremely well throughout the morning, proved to be the next lbw victim. Vernon Philander, unfortunate to bowl a no-ball when he trapped Warner lbw on day one, finally got his first wicket of the match to send Marsh back for 63, and with that, lunch was called.
Australia are still in control of the match, trailing by 61 runs in response to the Proteas 242, with six wickets in hand.
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