Dean Elgar © Getty Images
Dean Elgar © Getty Images

South Africa lost four wickets before lunch as Australia moved closer towards a convincing win on the fourth day of the first Test at Kingsmead on Sunday.

South Africa were 63 for four at lunch, a distant 354 runs short of an improbable target of 417.

Dean Elgar, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers and captain Faf du Plessis all fell without reaching double figures as Australia tightened their grip on a match they have dominated since the second day.

Aiden Markram and Elgar put on 29 for the first wicket before Elgar edged a sharply lifting delivery from Mitchell Starc to wicketkeeper Tim Paine to be out for nine.

Amla avoided a pair but only made eight before he was leg before wicket to Josh Hazlewood.

South Africa then suffered a hammer blow when De Villiers, their top scorer in the first innings, was run out for nought.

Markram turned a ball from off-spinner Nathan Lyon behind square leg and did not respond when De Villiers called him through for a run. De Villiers had to turn and tried to go back but could not beat David Warner’s throw to Lyon.

Pat Cummins struck with his third ball of the innings when he beat Du Plessis for pace and flattened his off stump.

Markram (38 not out) and Theunis de Bruyn (two not out), South Africa’s two most inexperienced batsmen, survived until lunch.

Earlier, Australia added 14 runs to their overnight total of 213 for nine before being bowled out for 227.