Aussies off to solid start in record chase

2014-02-23 13:06

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South Africa: 423 and 270/5 declared (Amla 127*, De Kock 34, De Villiers 29, Johnson 2/51, Siddle 2/89)

Australia: 246 and 31/0 (Rogers 21*, Warner 10*)

Australian needs 417 runs to win

Chris Rogers and David Warner got Australia off to a sound start in their world record chase of 448 as they look to seal the series after South Africa declared before lunch on the fourth morning.

With the attack down to three fit fast bowlers and two part-time spinners, Graeme Smith seemed to be reluctant to declare very early into the day. There was enough time to push the chase into world record proportions and also treat the crowd to a Hashim Amla century.

His 21st century in test cricket, it was always going to be the highlight of the fourth morning and it came in quick time, off only 139 balls as South Africa tried to ram home the advantage gained by the quick scoring from day three.

The batting was not sedate but Michael Clarke set defensive fields and always took regular peeks at South Africa’s dressing room to see if Smith would call his batsmen off the field.

Smith waited for an hour and 45 minutes and there was time for Quinton de Kock to make a marginal impression on his test debut, even though he was dropped on nine. He spurned the chance of making a 50 on debut when he cut a Nathan Lyon delivery to Michael Clarke at first slip.

Singles came easily enough before Smith decided enough was enough and went for a crack at the Australian batsmen.

Rogers was able to compile his highest score of the series in his minimalist fashion but for the visitors to have any shot of winning the match, they will need to keep the wicket column intact for the best part of two sessions.

So far the surface has not shown any demons and good bowling has been rewarded. Despite Australia’s naturally attacking instincts, South Africa will have to work hard for their wickets.

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