Du Plessis, De Villiers hold the fort
Australia stamped their authority on day four of the second test against South Africa at Adelaide, leaving the visitors reeling on 77 for four at close of play, still 353 runs short of a very unlikely victory.
Australia dominated the fourth day and ripped through the South African batting line-up, despite being a bowler short as James Pattinson has been ruled out of cricket for the rest of the year with a side and rib injury.
Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers got stuck in after a flurry of wickets and managed to hold on until stumps, grinding out 32 runs off 29 overs, leaving South Africa with a mountain to climb on the final day and hoping that the rain which is forecast will come into play.
Australia started off day four in a dominant position. Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey stretched the hosts’ lead even further with a 70-run partnership before Clarke was trapped leg before by Dale Steyn and was sent on his way for 39, despite reviewing the decision.
Hussey pressed on and notched up a 50 before he too was dismissed, holing out to midwicket off Morne Morkel where Steyn took a simple catch.
Matthew Wade and the tailenders combined for a bit of hit and giggle, adding 61 runs, including an unbeaten 47-run partnership between Ben Hilfenhaus and James Pattinson before captain Clarke summoned his troops on 267-8, having set South Africa 430 to win.
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A bad day then got worse for South Africa as skipper Graeme Smith was dismissed in the first over, with the South African getting a thick edge off Hilfenhaus which was easily caught in the slips by Ricky Ponting.
The agony continued when Amla was dismissed for 17, being deceived by a ball which turned straight on from Nathan Lyon and getting a thick edge to Clarke who took a juggling catch in the slips.
Jacques Rudolph, who came in up the order ahead of AB de Villiers, looked scratchy all through his innings and didn’t last very long, dismissed thanks to a blinder of a catch from Ed Cowan at short leg.
Rudolph closed the face of the bat to a full ball from Lyon and it was scooped up in the air to Cowan who reacted really quickly to take a sharp catch, very low off the ground.
Rudolph stood his ground while the umpires referred the decision upstairs, but the evidence was conclusive and he was sent packing as South Africa continued to crumble.
Alviro Petersen, who had played a couple of good shots and looked really solid, then followed. Peter Siddle banged a ball in short and Petersen got an inside edge onto his stumps, leaving South Africa reeling at 45-4.
Du Plessis and De Villiers frustrated Australia, though, and the two will resume on day five in a very sticky position.
Report Day 1
Report Day 2
Report Day 3
AUSTRALIA: Ed Cowan, David Warner, Rob Quiney, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke (capt), Michael Hussey, Matthew Wade (wk), Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Ben Hilfenhaus, Nathan Lyon.
SOUTH AFRICA: Graeme Smith (capt), Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers (wk), Jacques Rudolph, Faf du Plessis, Rory Kleinveldt, Morne Morkel, Dale Steyn, Imran Tahir.