Going into the Cape Town Test, the momentum was with South Africa since they had completely dominated the Aussies at Port Elizabeth. However, Australia showed a lot of character and plenty of self-belief to bounce back in the final Test, and clinch the tightly-fought series 2-1, thus denying South African skipper Graeme Smith a winning farewell. Right from day one, when they won the toss and decided to bat first, Australia were dominant, never allowing the hosts to make an impact. Although South Africa are the number one Test team, Australia were the one who played like champions, and deservedly won the series.
There were many incredible performances from Australia during the Test, the best of all coming from their dashing opener David Warner. The left-hander’s centuries in both the innings were equally destructive, and helped set up the win perfectly for the Aussies. Consistency has never been Warner’s forte during his international career, but in this series he has definitely shown that he is capable of much more than he has done so far in his career. At Cape Town, he went one step ahead by destroying the South African attack in both the innings.
When Warner succeeds, he has a Virender Sehwag-like impact on the opposition. This is exactly what happened at Cape Town. He put Australia ahead in a Test with a sparkling first innings hundred during which he maintained a strike rate of 89. Then, in the second essay, when Australia were looking to set the hosts a massive total in the fourth innings, he again stood up and, while scoring his second ton of the game, struck at a strike rate of 93. There wasn’t much the Proteas could do after Warner’s assault, as the opener was pretty much unstoppable.
The performance of Ryan Harris in the Test was extraordinary. It is well-documented by now that he could barely walk prior to the final day at Cape Town, owing to yet another of his never-ending list of injuries. Yet, he came out and bowled his heart out, and if it wasn’t for his stupendous strikes during the closing stages of the final day, South Africa might well have escaped with a draw, and the series could have been tied. Harris has been known to be a fighter in his short international career, but with his super effort at Cape Town, he has only earned more admirers.
Prior to the final Test, one of the biggest worries for Australia was the form of their skipper Michael Clarke. But, like most other greats, he stood up when his team needed him the most. His first-innings century perfectly complemented Warner’s smashing hundred, and played a major role in Australia gaining ascendency in the Test. Steven Smith also continued to impress with another vital knock. After a rare failure at Port Elizabeth, Mitchell Johnson was back to his best. With everything falling in place, an Australian win was like a mere formality.
--By A Cricket Analyst