The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

South Africa beats Australia by 231 runs to level series 1-1, set up decider

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PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa - In the end the weather forecast was irrelevant as Dale Steyn and South Africa stormed through Australia's batting for a series-levelling 231-run win in the second test on Sunday.

Steyn blew away Australia's middle order in the late afternoon, and part-time spinner Dean Elgar snatched the final wicket in the day's last over in the early evening in a frantic end to the fourth day.

After being 126-0, Australia lost 10 wickets for 90 to be 216 all out.

Australia might have been moments from a draw if the forecasts of persistent rain through the final day on Monday are realized, a draw that also would have ensured it couldn't lose the series. South Africa's desperation to wrap up the game in fading light and not give the weather any chance to rescue Australia was obvious.

The fourth day went well past 6 p.m. local time at St. George's Park after umpires gave South Africa the extra 30 minutes to seal a result. Chris Rogers was then run out by a direct hit from substitute fielder Alviro Petersen for 107 in the second last over after he looked like taking Australia to the final day, when the weather might have saved it.

Elgar had last man Nathan Lyon lbw for a duck with two balls to go in the day after the umpires had ruled the fading light wasn't good enough for Steyn to bowl. TV replays also suggested Lyon nicked the ball and shouldn't have been given out but Australia had no decision reviews left.

"It'll be great if it rains all day tomorrow," South Africa captain Graeme Smith said of the game-clinching and unexpected wicket from Elgar.

Ultimately, Steyn removed the weather equation with his 4-55 as Australia was bowled out in a little over two sessions facing a target of 448, giving top-ranked South Africa a big victory and revenge for its 281-run humbling in four days in the first test — a one-sided result that put its reputation as the No. 1 team and its five-year unbeaten series run on the line.

"I don't think many teams would have been able to respond like we did from that defeat," Smith said. "This team has had a lot of victories in many places ... and we know how to win. We showed that again today."

Smith said he believed there would have still been enough time for South Africa to clinch victory on the last day, but it was a hectic finish as Australia crumbled after David Warner was out for 66 to break the opening partnership of 126 with Rogers.

"We were outplayed with both bat and ball throughout this test match," Australia captain Michael Clarke said. "We've got to find a way to turn that around in the next few days."

Australia has its dominant win in the first test to fall back on as the teams head to a series decider in Cape Town. Both have shown strength and frailty over the first two games.

"It was only seven days ago we were playing fantastic cricket," Clarke said. "I'm not too concerned, to be honest."

The end for Australia in this test came quickly after the tourists had started their second innings so positively with Warner and Rogers making a dent on the huge target South Africa had set it off the back of Hashim Amla's 127 not out in its second innings.

With Australia already toppling at 153-3, the momentum swung convincingly when Steyn removed Clarke and Steve Smith in successive deliveries and smashed over Brad Haddin's middle stump in a three-over burst of pace and deadly reverse swing. When a fired-up Steyn blasted out Haddin's middle peg for the second time in the match, he ended his trademark downward fist pumping celebration by pointing threateningly at the stump lying prone on the ground.

"His anger goes from very angry to extremely angry," Smith said of his bowling spearhead. "Test cricket showed its true drama today and tonight."

What the weather comes up with on Monday doesn't matter.

___

Gerald Imray is on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GeraldImrayAP

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