South Africa staring at heavy defeat in test series decider
Agence France-Presse in Cape Town
Skipper Graeme Smith was out for just three runs in his last test innings as South Africa struggled to 71 for four while chasing 511 to win on the fourth day of the third and final cricket test at Newlands on Tuesday.
South Africa were 15 for three at tea before steadying the ship in the final session of the day as they fought to reach an unlikely target in this deciding match of the series.
Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers defied the bowlers for more than two hours in a fourth-wicket stand of 53 before Amla was leg before wicket to James Pattinson 20 minutes before the close.
Earlier, Australia’s declaration at 303 for five was set up by a dashing second century of the match by David Warner.
There were a potential 144 overs remaining after the declaration, leaving South Africa needing to fight an extended rearguard action in order to avoid defeat.
Smith was given a guard of honour by the Australian players but soon lost Alviro Petersen, his opening partner, who was leg before wicket to Ryan Harris – the 100th test wicket for the fast bowler.
Six balls later Smith fell for the fourth time in the series to Mitchell Johnson, edging a lifting delivery onto his thigh pad, with the ball looping to short leg Alex Doolan for an easy catch.
The Australians stood to salute Smith as he left the ground and his teammates gathered on the pavilion steps to applaud him off.
It ended a poor last series for Smith, who scored only 45 runs at an average of 7.50 in the three matches. He finished his 117-test career with 9,265 runs at an average of 48.25.
He hit 27 centuries and 38 half-centuries and was captain in a world record 109 tests.
Dean Elgar was then bowled by Johnson with what proved to be the last ball before tea.
Warner followed up his first innings 135 with 145, made off 124 balls. His last 45 runs were scored off 32 balls before he edged Kyle Abbott to wicketkeeper De Villiers going for another big shot. He hit 13 fours and four sixes.
When Warner was on 79 he reached 1,000 runs in eight test matches during the southern hemisphere season. The left-handed opening batsman finished the three-match series with 543 runs at an average of 90.50, hitting three centuries and two fifties.