How long will the Proteas last?

2014-03-05 08:49

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Australia: 494/7 declared and 303/5 declared (Warner 145 Rogers 39, Doolan 37, Smith 36*, Abbott 3/61, Morkel 1/67)

South Africa: 287 and 71/4 (Amla 41, De Villiers, Johnson 2/31, Harris 1/10, Pattinson 1/13)

South Africa needs 440 runs to win

Australia has three sessions in which they can claim seven wickets after they claimed the key wicket of Hashim Amla late on the fourth day.

Amla survived a confident leg-before shout as he and AB de Villiers, now South Africa’s prime batsmen, set out their stall of saving the match for the home side.

It could have been South Africa’s marginal session had Amla not been beaten by a James Pattinson inswinger, which he unsuccessfully reviewed.

It will be a tall order as Australia will have 98 overs to have a proper crack at the fragile line-up. Australia will have another new ball, which they will hope will do the trick. South Africa sent in Kyle Abbott as night watchman in an attempt to lengthen the batting line-up for the fifth day.

It will be a case of how long will the South Africans last.

The new ball did most of the talking; it made the openers jump about. Alviro Petersen (9), Graeme Smith (3) and Dean Elgar (0) all perished to the hard nut to leave the Proteas tottering at 15/3.

Petersen was sent packing by a Ryan Harris nip-backer that pitched short of a length but skittled through at shin height to leave the stricken right-hander.

Smith was picked off by his nemesis Mitchell Johnson, who dismissed him for the ninth and final time in 11 tests with a short ball that reared up to his ribs. Smith could only prod the ball into Alex Doolan’s hands at short leg.

Elgar did not have a good test, which was summed up by his off-stump being flattened by a Johnson delivery, which swung back in and left him leaden-footed.

De Villiers and Amla put up staunch, if not futile, resistance as they refused to scored from normally loose deliveries.

Their 53-run partnership consumed 163 balls before Amla fell, but the manner in which the top three was gunned down told the story of the series: they have not been able to match Australia’s aggression when it really counted.

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