Australia Close In On Series Win
South Africa have it all to do on the final day in Cape Town if they are to prevent Graeme Smith’s international career ending with a defeat. They closed on 71 for four after battling for 41 overs in their second innings at Newlands. That was after Australia had declared for the second time in the match to set them a theoretical 511 for victory.
David Warner made it two hundreds in the match a little after lunch to set up Australia’s second innings total of 303 for five declared off just 58 overs. Michael Clarke called his batsmen in shortly before tea and it was then over to Mitchell Johnson and co.
They didn’t disappoint, reducing the Proteas to 15 for three by the break. Ryan Harris (1-10) brought up 100 wickets in his 24th Test match by trapping Alviro Petersen plumb LBW. Graeme Smith had walked out to a standing ovation and a guard of honour from the Australians, but he was removed by Johnson via a catch from Alex Doolan at short-leg. Johnson (2-31) then clean-bowled Dean Elgar for a duck with the final ball of the session.
At this stage, Australia would have been dreaming of another four-day finish. However, Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers dug in to see out most of the evening session. Amla was the more fluent of the two and had reached 41 before being pinned leg-before by James Pattinson (1-13) just prior to stumps. Kyle Abbott then walked out to join de Villiers as night-watchman and the pair negated the final 4.2 overs, ending unbeaten on one off 11 balls and 16 off 100 respectively.
The first part of the day had belonged to Warner as Australia resumed 234 ahead of the home side on 27 without loss in their second innings. Warner and opening partner Chris Rogers batted for much of the morning session, with the former reaching his 50 off only 41 balls. The hamstrung Dale Steyn had a brief bowl, but was treated with disdain by Warner and that experiment was soon ended. Rogers at least gave South Africa something to cheer just before lunch as he was caught short by a throw from the deep from Steyn to be run-out for 39.
Alex Doolan found the going a little tricky and eventually perished trying to up the pace of his innings when he hooked to Abbott at long-leg to depart for 37 off 87 balls. Warner, though, reached three figures for the second time in the match and the eighth time in his Test career off just 124 balls. He and an aggressive Shane Watson would bring up the 50 partnership for the third-wicket off only 31 balls as Australia pressed their foot to the accelerator.
Watson’s cameo was brought to an end by Kyle Abbott at 25 off 17 balls, with Michael Clarke then caught first ball as he looked to launch Abbott (3-61) over mid-off. Warner’s also tried something ambitious against Abbott and was caught behind by de Villiers aiming a wild swing over the leg-side. Australia declared soon after, with Steve Smith unbeaten on 36 off only 20 balls, to leave South Africa with more than four sessions to survive.
© Cricket World 2014