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Graeme Smith's 26th Test century capped a day of remarkable comeback cricket on the second day of the second Test against Australia at the Adelaide Oval on Friday with the tourists finishing on 217-2 and the Proteas captain unbeaten on 111. Despite winning the day comprehensively, South Africa still trail Australia by 333 runs in the first innings, and aren't quite out of the woods just yet. The good news for them though is the Adelaide track remains terrific for batting, and they are likely to get the best conditions possible on day 3.
The home side resumed on the record-breaking first day score of 482-5 with captain Michael Clarke unbeaten on 224 and most pundits expecting a cruise to a total in excess of 600 and a declaration sometime after lunch. But Morne Morkel had other ideas and claimed three wickets in rapid time to hasten the demise to 504-9 and finish with figures of 5-146 in 30, feet-blistering overs. It was his sixth five-wicket haul and one of his best given the quality of the opposition and the paucity of assistance offered by the pitch.
The morning session was dominated by South Africa's bowlers who claimed the final five Australian wickets for the addition of just 68 runs â€“ 46 of which were scored by 10th wicket pair James Pattinson (42) and Nathan Lyon.
Clarke was bowled by a beauty from Morkel which cipped the top of middle stump with the Australian captain on 230 while wicketkeeper Matthew Wade (6) edged Morkel to AB de Villiers behind the stumps.
Rory Kleinvedt finally collected his first Test wicket after a barren debut in Brisbane two weeks ago when Peter Siddle (6) edged to Smith at slip and Morkel's fifth arrived courtesy of a top-edged hook from Ben Hilfenhaus (0) to Kleinveldt on the fine leg boundary.
Dale Steyn concluded the innings when Pattinson's enterprising 42 from just 35 balls ended with a fourth catch at first slip by Smith.
An opening partnership of 138 between Smith and Alviro Petersen was rarely troubled until a running mix-up saw Petersen swerve to avoid a collision with his captain, affording Mike Hussey the fraction of a second he needed to make a direct hit from mid-off count. Petersen's composed 54 came from 112 deliveries.
Hashim Amla played over the top of a full ball from part-timer David Warner on 11 to be well stumped by Wade but Smith reached his century from 198 balls with a dozen fours in the company of Jacques Rudolph who finished unbeaten on 25.
"It was a special moment to take five wickets," Morkel said after play. "The body and mind were both hurting after the first day but we took the early wickets we needed on the second morning and now we have a couple of batsmen well set, so we have recovered very well.
"We had a lot of positivity going into the second day and we believed we could fight back into the game. If we just sit back and think the game is over then we'll lose in three or four days.
"But that's not the way we play our cricket, we are proud South Africans and we fight hard at all times.
"I think Saturday will be a very exciting day. The third day of a Test match is usually the 'moving' day and we are hoping for a couple of big partnerships and we'll take it from there. Graeme is a man for the big occasion and we are in good hands with him at the crease," Morkel said.
Australia: E Cowan, D Warner, R Quiney, R Ponting, M Clarke(c), M Hussey, M Wade(wk), N Lyon, P Siddle, J Pattinson, B Hilfenhaus
South Africa: A Petersen, G Smith(c), H Amla, J Kallis, AB de Villiers(wk), F du Plessis, J Rudolph, D Steyn, R Kleinveldt, M Morkel, I Tahir
Australia 1st Innings 550 all out (107.2, 5.12 rpo)
M Clarke 230 (257) J Kallis 2-19
D Warner 119 (112) M Morkel 5-146
South Africa 1st Innings 217-2 (67, 3.23 rpo)
G Smith 111* (220) D Warner 1-27
A Peterson 54 (112)
File Photograph Copyright:Â·Oliver Florence
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