Proteas hang on – for now

2014-03-05 13:25

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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 122/5 (Amla 41, De Villiers 39*, Pattinson 2/32, Johnson 2/40, Harris 1/10)

South Africa needs 389 runs to win

South Africa saw off the morning session of the final day without much trouble, but a lot will depend on AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis, who were the heroes in Adelaide two years ago.

Runs had long ceased to be part of the equation when South Africa lost three quick wickets just before tea on day four as they embarked on a world-record chase of 511.

They needed to reprise the efforts of Adelaide two years ago when they saved a game that looked totally lost. They are still far from achieving that objective but they have conquered one session for the loss of only one wicket.

It was that of Kyle Abbott (7), who fell to a James Pattinson delivery that pretty much pitched on off-stump and hit off-stump. It was an apt way of getting the stubborn Abbott out as he refused to put bat to ball on anything that was not headed for the stumps.

Pattinson was the best of the Australian pace bowlers for most of the morning.

To his credit, Abbott’s role was to hold up an end and bat for as long as he could. He was dismissed more than an hour and a half after play started. That was job done with their partnership consuming 116 minutes.

The rest now falls to South Africa’s match-savers in Du Plessis and De Villiers. The latter batted without undue trouble and is in line to make the slowest test 50, which is owned by Englishman Trevor Bailey.

Australia will have use of the new ball for the best part of the afternoon session because it was available on the stroke of lunch. Once again, Australia is still in the pound seats, needing only five magic balls to end the game.

Time has been taken out, but more time remains.

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