Australia save follow-on, still staring down the barrel

2014-02-22 13:40

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South Africa: 423 all out (Duminy 123, De Villiers 116, Elgar 83 Du Plessis 55, Lyon 5/130, Clarke 1/16 Smith 1/30)

Australia: 205/8 (Warner 70, Smith 49*, Johnson 27, Philander 3/52, Parnell 2/31)

Australia trail by 218 runs at lunch, day three

Steve Smith took Australia to the brink of saving the follow-on while South Africa will rue a host of missed chances. The session, though, belonged to the Proteas.

All things even, South Africa should have been batting before lunch with a massive first innings lead but thanks to two dropped catches – by Hashim Amla and Robin Peterson – Australia still find themselves in a tough position after losing wickets at regular intervals.

The Proteas now have the task of bowling Australia out with one bowler short. Wayne Parnell cried off mid-way through his eighth over with a suspected groin strain. It was not what the Proteas needed after an excellent start to the day.

Overnight batsmen David Warner and Nathan Lyon’s stoic vigil did not last long into the morning, with the south-paw Warner perishing to Vernon Philander.

Lyon (15) battled well in his nightwatchman position but dealing with the short ball proved to be beyond his capabilities, falling to Morne Morkel.

Brad Haddin and Smith should have been back in the hut early but chances were put down. Hashim Amla could only palm a Haddin stinger to the boundary, dislocating a finger in the process while Robin Peterson put down a simple chance off Smith at square-leg while the New South Welshman was on 24.

Haddin did not maximise his life as he became Dale Steyn’s first victim, castled by an excellent inswinger for a 25-ball 9. Smith used his extra life well ensured that he remained unbeaten at lunch but that was not the case for Mitchell Johnson, who got a taste of his own nasty medicine from Morkel.

He was rapped on the ribs and pinged on the helmet. He should have been out to Morkel as the ball that hit him on the helmet took the top edge on its way up.

Unbelievably, Graeme Smith opted not to review but JP Duminy ensured that Johnson will not be back after lunch, bowling him with one that went through the gap between bat and pad.

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