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Home Australia win to draw thrilling series
Australia won a thrilling Test match against South Africa by two wickets in Johannesburg to salvage an unlikely draw from the two-match series.
A fighting knock of 38 not out from Mitchell Johnson and a cameo of 13 from teenage debutant Pat Cummins saw the tourists home, despite South Africa looking the more likely side after dismissing Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting early on day five.
Johnson, together with Brad Haddin (55), triggered a fightback with a partnership of 72 for the 7th wicket though, to bring Australia to just 21 away from the 310 target.
Haddin and Peter Siddle then both fell in quick succession to the new ball to put the hosts back in the hunt.
But Cummins, who also took 6-79 in South Africa’s second innings, played a nerveless innings to get his side over the line, hitting the winning runs off Imran Tahir.
Australia’s win is remarkable considering their dismal performance in the opening Test, where Michael Clarke’s side were bowled out for 47 - after being 21-9 - in their second innings, on the way to an 8-wicket defeat.
Clarke, who described his side’s batting performance in the first Test as ‘disgraceful’ said: “What an amazing series for all the supporters of Test cricket.
“We’ve had some ups and downs through out the series, but it has been really exciting. I was yelling and carrying on like an absolute goose towards the end of the match. We were cheering every run from the sidelines.”
Quick bowler Cummins, just 18, will take the headlines after the win for his nerveless all-round debut.
And Clarke said the emphasis was on the Australia side to nurture his undoubted talent.
He added: “It is about now managing Cummins and making sure he becomes one of the all-time greats.”
Cummins survived a nerve-wracking LBW review with just four runs required, as leg-spinner Imran Tahir’s googly struck him on the front-pad.
Umpire Ian Gould’s not out decision was referred by Smith and Cummins escaped by virtue of the ball striking him marginally enough in line with off stump for the original decision to be upheld.
Two balls later the match was over, as Cummins smote a short delivery through mid-wicket to cue Australia celebrations.
South Africa’s failure to seal the series win against Michael Clarke’s side means they remain in third place in the ICC Test rankings, ahead of a three-Test series against Sri Lanka over Christmas.
Victory would have taken them ahead of current second placed side India, and in position to once again push for the number one spot currently held by England.
The two sides meet in the UK in 2012, with the first Test match starting at Lord’s on Thursday 16 August.