Centurion, South Africa: Australia crushed cricket's top-ranked team on Saturday as unstoppable fast bowler Mitchell Johnson took 12 of 20 wickets to send South Africa to a humbling 281-run defeat at home in the first test.
Already with 7-68 from the first innings, Johnson ripped out 5-59 in the second to bowl South Africa out for 200, way off the huge target of 482 at SuperSport Park. Johnson finished with match figures of 12-127 off 33 brutally hostile overs.
Bowling fast and often short, and too fast for the South Africans to handle, the left-arm Johnson sent back openers Alviro Petersen and Graeme Smith inside four overs. He had JP Duminy out just before tea. For good measure, Johnson struck Ryan McLaren a crunching blow on the helmet with a bouncer, then blasted him out too as a ruthless Australia took the lead in the three-match contest.
The red-hot quick eventually finished with a second five-wicket haul of the match and his third career 10-for in tests. Fellow fast bowlers Peter Siddle and Ryan Harris had two each as Australia rattled through South Africa's top order for the second time in the match and then bruised its lower order.
Johnson's destructive start to the series opener already had the Proteas all out for 206 in their first knock.
Sweeping aside South Africa's No. 1 ranking, Australia and Johnson had the home team on the ropes throughout the opening match and sealed a commanding win to start the three-match series, where Australia is now far more than just a mere challenger to South Africa's status as the top team in the world. Australia has been the best team by some way in this match.
Dominating with bat as well as ball, Australia had earlier declared its second innings on 290-4 in the third over of play for a lead of 481 after a power-packed 115 by David Warner and 89 by debutant Doolan. Warner's rapid hundred was the third Australian century of the game, and his double-century partnership in tandem with Doolan the tourists' second stand of over 200.
Australia made 397 batting first after being put in by South Africa.
In comparison, AB de Villiers was the only South African to pass 50 and deal with the threat of Johnson with his 91 in the first innings. De Villiers made 48 in the second innings as all around him the home team crumbled through four days.
Johnson reduced South Africa to 12-2 at one point on Saturday after another blistering spell by the ferocious Australia fast bowler, and if his wickets weren't enough to underline his threat, he hit McLaren with a vicious bouncer. McLaren came up smiling after some on-field attention to a cut near his ear and walked off at the tea break.
Johnson had forced Petersen (1) out to an edge behind to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin in the second over and removed South Africa captain Smith for 4 to a superb sharp catch by Doolan at short leg in the fourth over. Du Plessis was hit low on the pads after a ball came off a crack and Amla also didn't stay long enough to worry Australia.
Duminy fell for 10 just before the end of the session when he clipped a ball from Johnson away and Doolan managed to react quickly enough to take a brilliant catch.
McLaren survived the bouncer but not Johnson's aggression for much longer as he edged behind soon after tea for 140-6. De Villiers drove a Johnson ball straight to Michael Clarke to fall just short of a half-century.
Coming off a 5-0 Ashes whitewash of England, Australia became the first team to beat South Africa in a test at Centurion in 14 years—and only the second ever. South Africa had lost just once, to England in 2000, over 18 tests at SuperSport Park.
At the start of the day, Australia skipper Michael Clarke, who was batting at the time, called a halt to the second innings as soon as Shaun Marsh fell to Dale Steyn for 44 in the third over, setting South Africa an improbable victory target of 482 that was made much more unlikely by Johnson's unplayable form.