Johnson tears through South African line-up

MITCHELL Johnson's breathtaking burst of fast bowling had top-ranked South Africa 140-6 and staggering in reply to Australia's first-innings 397 after the second day of the first test on Thursday.

Johnson ripped out four South Africans, with captain Graeme Smith and Faf du Plessis falling to ferocious and near-unplayable short-pitched deliveries from the left-arm quick at SuperSport Park.

South Africa was 257 behind when rain ended play early.

"I just wanted to hit the wicket as hard as I can," Johnson said. "My plan was really to bang the wicket hard and it came off."

Earlier, Shaun Marsh and Steve Smith both made centuries for Australia. Marsh's 148 was a career-best, Smith's 100 his fourth hundred in seven tests, and their 233-run stand led the Aussies out of trouble and toward early control of the match.

Read more at the NZ Herald