South Africa got off to a sedate start after Michael Clarkes sterling century and some spectacular rearguard action powered Australia to their best score of the series so far on Day Two of the third and final Test here on Sunday.
Resuming on 267 for six,overnight batsmen Clarke (138) and Mitchell Johnson (64) stitched together an invaluable 142-run stand before Nathan Hauritz (41) and Peter Siddle (23) chipped in as Australia raised 445 runs in their first essay. In reply,South Africa lost Neil McKenzie (23) to Peter Siddle and Graeme Smith (30) to injury before reaching 125 for one at stumps. They still trail by 320 runs with nine wickets in hand. In-form Hashim Amla (30) and veteran Jacques Kallis (36) were in the middle,having put on 49-run stand and looking good for more.
Earlier,Dale Steyn and Paul Harris claimed three wickets apiece but overall,it was quite a toil for the South African bowlers who just could not get the better of the Australian tail-enders determination. Clarkes 10th Test century was a product of more than six-hour vigil,during which he faced 250 balls and hitting 17 boundaries. Johnsons career best 64 came in nearly three hours,off 124 balls with 11 fours.
It was a Duminy full toss that Clarke,trying to drive down the ground,spooned to the bowler who dived to his left to take a sharp catch. Two runs later,Johnson fell to Steyn when Smith caught in the slip. Hauritz and Siddle also decided to make a mark with the bat and added 59 runs for the ninth wicket.
When Smith and McKenzie walked out to spearhead South Africas reply,none looked in comfort,especially against debutant Doug Bollinger. Smith twice edged and on both occasions heaved a sigh of relief as the ball didnt carry to the slips.
Australia (1st Innings): M Hayden b Steyn 31,S Katich c de Villiers b Kallis 47,R Ponting c Boucher b Morkel 0,M Hussey c Kallis b Harris 30,M Clarke c & b Duminy138,A McDonald c Boucher b Ntini 15,B Haddin b Steyn 38,M Johnson c Smith b Steyn 64,N Hauritz c Duminy b Harris 41,P Siddle lbw b Harris 23,D Bollinger not out 0,Extras: (lb-7,w-3,nb-8) 18
Total: (all out in 136.2 overs) 445; Fall of wickets: 1-62,2-63,3-109,4-130,5-162,6-237,7-379,8-381,9-440; Bowling: D Steyn 27-5-95-3,M Ntini 29-5-102-1,M Morkel 27-3-89-1,J Kallis 20-6-54-1,P Harris 29.2-6-84-3,J Duminy 4-0-14-1.
South Africa (1st Innings): N McKenzie lbw Siddle23,G Smith retd hurt 30,H Amla batting 30,J Kallis batting 36,Extras: (lb-2,w-2,nb-2): 6
Total: (for 1 wkt,in 39 overs) 125; Fall of wickets: 0-35 (retired hurt),1-76; Bowling: P Siddle 10-4-21-1,D Bollinger 10-1-42-0,M Johnson 8-1-28-0,A McDonald 6-2-12-0,N Hauritz 5-0-20-0.