Australia made sure that they are the only side that can secure victory in the deciding Test against South Africa at Newlands by dominating the third day. They first declared on their overnight 494 for seven, with skipper Michael Clarke left unbeaten on 161, and then bowled out the Proteas for 287.
Alviro Petersen and Faf du Plessis both made half-centuries, but Mitchell Johnson (4-42) and Ryan Harris (3-63) shared seven wickets, while the returning James Pattinson played his part with two for 77 as Australia were given the option of enforcing the follow-on. They declined to do so and extended their lead to 234 by stumps as David Warner smashed 25 off just 17 balls to help them close in their second innings on 27 without loss.
With much of yesterday lost to rain, Clarke had no real option but to declare if he was to give his bowlers enough time to take 20 wickets. Ryan Harris ensured that no time was wasted by continuing Graeme Smith’s dismal run. A review was wasted on an LBW appeal, but Harris soon had his man edging behind to Brad Haddin. Smith has now made just 42 runs from five innings in this series.
Dean Elgar and Hashim Amla then took the score to 42 before Elgar was the victim of a spectacular diving catch from Haddin off Pattinson. Elgar was cut in two by the delivery from Pattinson, with Haddin diving away to his left to pouch the inside edge one-handed.
Alviro Petersen soon took charge, benefiting from Nathan Lyon spilling a tough chance at point to lay into Pattinson and reach his eighth Test fifty off as many balls. He didn’t hang around for too much longer, however, and was caught down the leg-side off Johnson by that man Haddin.
Australia had one more moment of success before lunch when Harris produced a gem of an in-swinger to bowl Hashim Amla on the drive for 38. South Africa ended the extended first session on 127 for five, with the in-form AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis the men unbeaten.
Johnson picked up the big wicket of de Villiers soon after the resumption when he invited the right-hander to drive loosely at a full delivery; the resulting edge taken by Clarke at second slip. That made it 133 for five and there was soon a sixth wicket as Harris perhaps benefited from Johnson striking new man JP Duminy a painful blow; the left-hander hanging back on a drive and caught by Haddin for only four.
Vernon Philander and du Plessis prevented any further loss before tea, which was reached at 200 for six, although not without alarms. Du Plessis continued to lead the charmed life that had begun in the first session when he was given the benefit of the doubt on a caught behind decision by charging at Lyon, only to miss and watch the until-then-excellent Haddin fluff the easiest of stumping chances. He would also benefit from Australian fielders spilling two more half chances before the session was out.
He, along with Philander, made Australia pay for a while as the pair took their seventh-wicket stand to 95 and du Plessis notched up Test half-century number four off 119 balls. Johnson, though, struck by having du Plessis caught by David Warner for 67 in the gully, with Shane Watson then proving his worth as an all-rounder by bowling new man Kyle Abbott for just three.
Dale Steyn enjoyed himself in making 28 off 27 balls before handing Johnson wicket number four, with Pattinson then wrapping things up as Watson made it back-to-back slip catches to end the innings at 287. Philander was left undefeated with 37, with South Africa facing a huge first innings deficit of 207 and with plenty to do in their second innings if they are to avoid defeat in this series decider.
© Cricket World 2014