Proteas lose 4 key wickets

2014-03-03 13:18

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Australia: 494/7 declared (Clarke 161*, Warner 135, Smith 84, Duminy 4/79, Steyn 1/44, Elgar 1/99)

South Africa: 127/4 (Petersen 53, Amla 38, Harris 2/18, Johnson 1/22, Pattinson 1/43)

South Africa trails by 367 runs

South Africa is on the rack after losing four key wickets on the third morning as Australia made the most of scoreboard pressure.

Big first innings totals have been the game-changers and Australia followed this pattern by making the runs and putting South Africa under pressure.

Michael Clarke declared overnight after most of the second afternoon was washed out, giving South Africa the unwanted advantage of having to bat under cloudy early morning skies and a ball that seemed to move more than at any stage of the game.

Graeme Smith has been having trouble with Australia’s pace bowlers and Ryan Harris toyed with him early doors. Harris’ expert ability in moving the ball ensured that he took Smith’s feet and balance out of the equation, leaving the struggling captain with only his bat as a weak defence.

That was what Harris needed as he produced an out-swinger that Smith could not leave alone.

Brad Haddin completed the neat glove work and the Proteas were 7/1.

Dean Elgar and Alviro Petersen in particular put up some stiff resistance but Elgar did not last too long, inside edging Mitchell Johnson to Haddin to leave South Africa struggling at 42/2.

South Africa’s best partnership of the game came between Petersen and Hashim Amla as the duo took full toll of James Pattinson’s loose bowling.

The aggressive 53-run partnership, coming off only nine overs, should have evolved into something bigger, but Petersen was caught down the legside by Haddin off Johnson as the hosts struggled to marry application with their aggression. Petersen’s run-a-ball 50 was the only highlight.

They were further in the mire at 121/4 when Amla was bowled neck and crop by a wonderful Harris inswinger. It left the Proteas with more than a mountain to climb, especially with the distant nature of the 297 follow-on mark.

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