A depleted Australian attack secured an innings and 182-run victory over South Africa in the second test on Thursday, wrapping up the series with a match to spare after the visitors’ batting woes were rudely exposed once more.
Needing 386 runs to make Australia bat again after the hosts had declared on a mammoth 575 for eight, the Proteas were bowled out for 204, with two farcical run-outs hastening their demise before tea on day four at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Australia’s win, their fourth in successive tests in the home summer, shored up top spot in the World Test Championship, while underlining their number one ranking in the format.
With all-rounder Cameron Green unable to bowl and Mitchell Starc with an injured middle finger on his bowling hand, Australia showed plenty of grit.
“That’s really sweet, super proud of how we kind of ‘gutsed’ it out at times,” captain Pat Cummins said at the post-match presentation.
“For Starcy to come out with a pretty big injury (and) bowl like he did … really, really proud of this team.”
Having won the last three test series in Australia, South Africa’s proud record in the country lay in smoking ruins on Thursday.
It was their worst defeat in Australia, eclipsing the innings and 163-run loss in Brisbane in 1931.
Beaten by six wickets in the series-opener in Brisbane, Dean Elgar’s side head to the third test in Sydney with a host of problems and only pride on the line.
“It’s not easy at the moment,” said Elgar.
“I must say it’s a bit of a hammering that. We haven’t been up to speed with the kind of intensity that test cricket demands.”
Temba Bavuma scored the Proteas’ sole half-century in the second innings but the pint-sized number four was something of a liability for his partners, running out Khaya Zondo for one and Keshav Maharaj for 13.
After Maharaj’s dismissal, Bavuma then top-edged a slog-sweep off spinner Nathan Lyon to be caught for 65, leaving South Africa 176 for eight and the tail-end exposed.
Lyon finished with 3-58 for the innings, with paceman Scott Boland taking two wickets.
David Warner was named Player of the Match for his epic 200 in scorching heat on day two.
Starc set the tone with a sizzling yorker that trapped Sarel Erwee lbw for 21 after South Africa resumed on 15 for one in the morning.
“Nice way to do it,” said Starc after the win.
“It’s been an interesting week on and off the field with a bit going on but I think batting and bowling we adapted to all hurdles this week and it was a fantastic win.”