Faf du Plessis, Vernon Philander find some fight

2014-03-03 15:52

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Australia: 494/7 declared (Clarke 161*, Warner 135, Smith 84, Duminy 4/79, Steyn 1/44, Elgar 1/99)

South Africa: 200/6 (Petersen 53, Du Plessis 42*, Amla 38, Harris 3/44, Johnson 2/29, Pattinson 1/54)

South Africa trails by 297 runs

Ryan Harris and Mitchell Johnson punched holes into the South African batting line-up before Faf du Plessis found some fight, along with Vernon Philander.

On what should have been the best batting day of the test, Australia and Ryan Harris, especially, made it seem as if the two teams batted on different pitches.

Just like they did in Pretoria, Australia match their scoreboard pressure with bowling of rare guile, usually pace and astonishing accuracy. With the facets coming together, it made for beautiful bowling as South Africa struggled to score runs and the wickets fell as a result.

It was only two of them but two big wickets. Australia bowled dry like they did in the Ashes and they reaped the rewards.

AB de Villiers was the first to go after lunch, uncharacteristically slashing at a wide delivery and was well caught by Clarke at second slip.

Duminy, the hero of Port Elizabeth, owed Newlands a test century but his career has been of extensive famine and rather short riches. He was unable to show the form of St George’s Park and was Haddin’s fourth victim of the game.

Harris had now taken his third wicket and was getting the ball to move late into the batsmen. It was not easy going.

It was left to Faf du Plessis to do another salvage job and it was not a luckless one by any stretch. He was dropped twice on 30 by Alex Doolan at short leg and by Brad Haddin on 37.

Nathan Lyon and Harris were the unlucky bowlers as they struggled to get back into the game. They shared a crucial 54-run partnership which will have to be lengthened diligently.

The follow-on target of 297 still has to be attained.

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