Proteas can’t be complacent

2014-02-22 09:10

South Africa: 423 all out (Duminy 123, De Villiers 116, Elgar 83; Lyon 5/130, Clarke 1/16 Smith 1/30)

Australia: 112/4 (Warner 65*, Clarke 19; Parnell 2/19, Philander 2/26)

Australia trail by 311 runs

South Africa are well and truly on top at the beginning of the third day’s play, with the pace bowler’s having come to the party after the batsmen’s hard work.

But two dropped catches and a missed review sullied what could have been a great day yesterday.

South Africa had Australia four down for 98 runs at SuperSport Park before Steven Smith and Shaun Marsh galloped away with the game. The big difference was that Australia batted first and had the luxury of dictating the game.

But South Africa batted first this time and put the necessary runs on the board, even though it was not at the speed they would have liked.

Nonetheless, 400 is a mental barrier that teams have to cross.

There is also the small matter of having to get to the follow-on total before a team even entertains thoughts of a first-innings lead.

Australia are 111 runs away from that part but they are fighting against the light, scoring at 4.4 runs to the over.

The fact that Australia had so many runs was down to another punchy but fortuitous David Warner half-century, studded with eight boundaries and a customary dropped catch on 43.

Had the catch been taken by AB de Villiers, Australia would have been five down for not much and faced with a real possibility of a battle on the third morning. Fighting out of the trenches was something they did well at home but away, it has been a different story.

While the start was good up front, with Vernon Philander dismissing the nuggety Chris Rogers for 5 (lbw), it was the returning Wayne Parnell who made the most of his homecoming.

He removed Alex Doolan for 8 and Shaun Marsh for a duck within two balls of each other, which moved away from them, and were well caught by De Villiers, before he made the Warner blooper off Morne Morkel, who was menacing.

He put Michael Clarke through the thresher, tenderising him before he limply drove Philander to Dean Elgar at short cover for 19.

It was a bad shot from a man who is horribly out of form, but that also goes for his South African counterpart – the difference being Graeme Smith is an opener who has to endure extreme conditions.

South Africa did not push on as much as they wanted to after forging a strong position early on day two.

They will be satisfied with their day’s work but will be careful not to let it slip like they did at SuperSport Park.

Third-innings batting is not the easiest at St George’s Park and a sizeable lead will be just right for the home team.

They will have to earn it, though.

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