Proteas lose grip on top Test ranking
Steve Larkin
17:44 AEST Thu Nov 22 2012

Here marks the spot where South Africa lost their grip on the world's No.1 Test ranking.

In Adelaide, the Proteas lost their all-round superman, Jacques Kallis, to a hamstring injury.

They briefly lost their fast bowling spearhead, Dale Steyn, to a tight hamstring.

They lost their rising paceman, Vernon Philander, to a pre-match back injury.

They lost confidence in first-choice spinner Imran Tahir - who also lost a ball when smacked for a six into Adelaide Oval's construction site.

The South Africans lost both their video challenges to the decision review system.

And they went a long way to losing the Test against an Australian outfit delighting in kicking a luckless foe when they were down.

Days of Test cricket, surely, don't get any worse than this for a nation.

Hamstrung by injuries to Kallis and Steyn, who returned to the field after receiving treatment on a tight hamstring, captain Graeme Smith was forced to scrape the bottom of his barrel.

He turned to Tahir. Tahir turned the odd ball. But seemingly, all the even ones were relentlessly punished by Australian century-makers David Warner and Michael Clarke.

Tahir, the frontline tweaker, reached his century too. His initial 12.5 overs cost 0-101.

Smith turned to Rory Kleinveldt, who only received a last-minute reprieve because Philander somehow managed to injure himself while sleeping in his Adelaide hotel - he woke with a stiff back and was withdrawn from the Test.

Kleinveldt, too, proved fodder for the hungry Australians. His first 16 overs cost 70 runs.

So Smith turned to Morne Morkel, his only fit genuinely fast bowler, when Steyn temporarily hobbled off.

And Clarke rubbed salt into the wounds.

Morkel, in fairness, toiled hard. But he was also whacked for five fours in an over by the all-conquering Australian captain.

Smith opted not to turn again to his debutant allrounder Faf du Plessis for four hours after his first over in Test cricket cost 11 runs.

But the South African skipper would have been forgiven for turning to the skies and praying for help as he lost his stranglehold on the long-cherished No.1 Test ranking.

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