Proteas face uphill battle to save test

2014-03-04 10:11

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Australia: 494/7 declared and 27/0 (Warner 25*, Rogers 1*)

South Africa: 287 (Du Plessis 67, Petersen 53, Amla 38, Philander 37*, Johnson 4/42, Harris 3/63, Pattinson 2/77)

Australia leads by 234 runs

David Warner and Chris Rogers safely negotiated a tricky phase of the evening session on day three, leaving the Proteas with an uphill task to save the game on day four.

South Africa should have gone after Australia in the 32 or so minutes they afforded themselves after they were bowled out late on the third day. Instead, Australia continued in their same attacking vein and made sure they had the platform to begin a third innings assault this morning. The series is theirs for the taking.

The Proteas should have batted better and landed somewhere close to Australia’s total, not just for parity’s sake, but to take as much time out of the game as possible. There are 196 possible overs left in the game.

Had two or three other batsmen showed Faf du Plessis’ perseverance, aside from Alviro Petersen and Vernon Philander, South Africa would not have had a stinky looking scorecard.

It looked similar to the damage done by Australia in the first test when Mitchell Johnson laid waste to the Proteas’ batsmen. He was as brutal and menacing, but with flavouring of accuracy that was missing from the first two tests.

He hit the customary helmet, this time that of Dale Steyn, but there was no blood spilt.

Johnson benefited from bowling in tandem with Ryan Harris, who took care of South Africa’s big guns in Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla.

Johnson carved through the rest, including the dangerous AB de Villiers and the resolute du Plessis, whose match-saving antics were not enough to rescue them from this mire.

It just seemed that the Proteas were not willing to learn from the mistakes of the first test when they allowed Australia to run away with the game in the first innings and let their bowlers dictate the proceedings.

It has allowed Australia to get into a position where they can bat quickly and set South Africa a fourth innings target on a track that is starting to show signs of misbehaviour.

A few deliveries stayed uncomfortably low on a surface that was baked by the sun and dried out by the South Easter.

They were not able to take wickets on the third innings when they should have gone all out, and the little window of opportunity they had was slammed shut by Warner.

It is all Australia now.

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