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It’s been four years since South Africa took on Australia down under and a lot has changed since then.
Graeme Smith was the captain of the Proteas and Michael Clarke was the Australian skipper. Outgoing captain Ricky Ponting was still in the side and played what turned out to be his final Test series.
The first Test in Brisbane was a batsman’s paradise.
South Africa won the toss and Australia’s pace attack of Ben Hilfenhaus, James Pattinson and Peter Siddle toiled away to eventually bowl out the visitors for 450. Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis both scored centuries.
In reply, Ed Cowan kept his head as wickets crumbled around him including Ponting for a duck.
Cowan and Michael Clarke resurrected the innings with a 259-run partnership. Clarke finished unbeaten on 259 and Michael Hussey made it a third century for the innings.
The match petered out to a tame draw as South Africa were content to meander along in the third innings, realising a win was out of the question.
The second Test in Adelaide was also a draw but was far more dramatic and ultimately was a huge turning point in the series.
After a solid blistering run-a-ball century by David Warner, Michael Clarke scored his second straight double century and Michael Hussey also scored another ton as Australia posted 550.
Despite 122 to Graeme Smith in reply, South Africa trailed by 162-runs with Hilfenhaus taking 3 for 49.
Australia found the going much tougher in their second innings. Michael Clarke made an aggressive declaration on day four, leaving South Africa with more than a day and a half to score 430 for victory.
With the pitch deteriorating, the Proteas were on the ropes at stumps and finished on 4 for 77 with Australia seemingly destined for an easy victory.
Somehow, AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis survived for 68 overs. The partnership wasn’t about runs, it was about trying to save the game.
When de Villiers was dismissed, Australia still had a chance, but the injured Jacques Kallis stonewalled and the tail hung in with du Plessis.
Faf’s 110 not out will go down as one of the all-time great innings to save a Test match. It came off 376 balls and involved 466 minutes of concentration.
Australia was left distraught, especially Peter Siddle who bowled his heart out for 33 overs.
Even though he took four wickets, the toll it took on his body meant he missed the third Test.
Mitchell Starc was brought into the side and Hilfenhaus was also rested for John Hastings.
South Africa’s great escape gave them the mental edge for the third Test in Perth.
du Plessis was again unstoppable and made an unbeaten 78 but had little support from his teammates as the Proteas were dismissed for 228.
Shane Watson replaced Rob Quiney, but he could only manage 10 as Dale Steyn went on a rampage. Australia’s great bowling effort completely undone by their batting.
Ponting was given a guard of honour in his final innings, but could only make 8.
At one stage the Aussies were 6 for 45, eventually crawling to 163 thanks to a late cameo from wicketkeeper Matthew Wade.
Austalia’s chances of winning the series went up in smoke as South Africa piled on the runs in the third innings of the match.
Amla (196) and de Villiers (169) scoring more than five an over to set Australia an impossible 632 to win.
With two days to bat, Australia had no choice but to try and win but fell well short. A blistering Mitchell Starc innings of 68 came too late and South Africa won the Test and the series.
Despite being on the losing team, Michael Clarke was still voted as player of the series.
Will Hashim Amla, Dale Steyn and Faf du Plessis be the thorns in Australia’s chances once again or can the Aussies make amends for four years ago?