Australia close in on 500 as rain brings early end

2014-03-02 15:18

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Australia: 494/7 ( Clarke 161*, Warner 135, Smith 84, JP Duminy 4/73, Steyn 1/44, Elgar 1/99)

Unseasonal rain brought a premature end to proceedings on day two at Newlands with Australia in a very strong position. The only question that remains is when will Michael Clarke enforce the declaration with a lot of time lost in the game.

Play will resume at 10am for the rest of the test to make up for the lost time.

Clarke extended Australia’s dominance in the afternoon session, even though wickets fell at regular intervals.

The Australian captain was at his best, manipulating fields and scoring at will as the Proteas struggled to plug gaps when he was on strike.

What South Africa did well was to take wickets at the other end, even though they came more through Australia’s care-free batting rather than excellent bowling.

Clarke crossed 150 again at Newlands, which is quickly becoming his favourite ground in South Africa. It is his 10th 150-plus score.

Shane Watson was taking the mickey out of the Proteas with muscular blows into the howling north westerly wind and down the ground. When on 40, Watson chanced his arm once too often and found Hashim Amla’s safe hands at deep long off.

Watson is one of the biggest hitters in the game but Newlands’ big boundary and a strong wind will test any batsman. Having been successful on three occasions, it was not to be fourth time lucky. What his 32-ball innings did, though, was give the Aussies the catalyst to get to the 500 mark.

Had Brad Haddin been in the kind of form he was in during the Ashes, the visitors could have achieved the landmark pretty quickly. However, his scoring areas were plugged and the Proteas bowled cleverly to him.

All he could do was slap Duminy straight to Amla, who moved up to mid-off. Duminy was then on a hat-trick as Mitchell Johnson was caught down the leg side by AB de Villiers.

The left-hander was reprieved but De Villiers, acting as captain in the absence of Smith, who was off the field, opted to review and for a change they got it right.

Whether Duminy gets his chance to become South Africa's second hat-trick hero will all be dependent on Clarke's generosity.

It is highly unlikely that Clarke will extend the innings for very long, even though he is not out. There is a game and a series to be won and the third day will be the big determinant, especially with so much time lost in the game.

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