Australia’s hopes of drawing the fourth Test and earning some salvation in this disastrous Test series were mercilessly crushed by Vernon Philander as he routed the visitors with his spell of six wickets for three runs on the fifth day at Johannesburg.
Courtesy of Philander’s six-wicket haul, Australia were folded for only 119 runs and lost the game by 492 runs, allowing South Africa to win the series 3-1, their first series win at home against Australia after readmission.
Australia began the fifth day with the score of 88 runs for three wickets while chasing the massive target of 612 runs. But the day started on a horrible note for the visitors as they lost the Marsh brothers in the first over itself.
Philander sent back Shaun Marsh on the very first ball of the day and two balls later found Mitchell Marsh’s outside edge which was grabbed by Quinten de Kock behind the stumps.
Two overs later, Peter Handscomb chopped the ball on his stumps to Philander. Then, in the fifth over of the day, Philander dismissed Aussie captain Time Paine with an incredible delivery. On the previous two deliveries, the pacer found Paine’s outside and inside edge which landed safely but on the third delivery, the outside edge settled into wicket-keeper’s gloves.
One over later, Pat Cummins lost his off stump while shouldering against the South African bowler and on the very next ball Chris Sayers edged the ball to de Kock.
The last man Chris Lyon was run-out while stealing the second run by Aiden Markram and with at Australia agony on the fifth morning came to an end. The Australian innings lasted for just 17 overs and could add only 31 runs to their overnight score.
Philander was the man-of-the-match while Kagiso Rabada was the man-of-the-series. Australia had won the first Test but then South Africa came back strongly and won the next three Tests.
But more than cricket, the series will be remembered more for the controversies. Starting from the staircase duel between Warner and de Kock to Rabada’s ban and consequent cancelation of the ban, the series was always in the headlines.
The biggest controversy though was the ball-tampering saga which resulted in banning of Steve Smith, David Warner, and Cameron Bancroft.