Australia are delighted after AB de Villiers’s wicket © Getty Images


Mar 5, 2014


Australia went into Tea on Day five with a striking distance of victory after sending Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers back into the pavilion against South Africa.


After frustrating the lethal Australian bowling brigade throughout the first session with bloody minded grit and stoic determination throughout the first session through nightwatchman Kyle Abbott and de Villiers, who blocked and left deliveries at will, the Proteas set out more positively than the previous 39 overs they faced, that brought a miserly 51 runs.


It was Ryan Harris running in with his crocked knees that provided salvation for the Aussies. After tempting and teasing de Villiers just deliveries before, Harris was rewarded with the big fish. De Villiers was undone with the nagging line and had to poke at the delivery pitched on the ‘off-stump corridor’ — de Villiers nicked it to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin and Australia were on top again.


With the hosts’ entire top order back in the hut, the onus was on Faf du Plessis to steady South Africa. Du Plessis showed more intent and spunk than de Villiers coupled with his solid defense.


Michael Clarke on the other hand, continued to tinker and rotate his bowlers in his typical fashion but apart from Harris and the odd unplayable rib-smasher from Mitchell Johnson, the supporting cast of Australian bowlers was negated well by Faf du Plessis. Clarke constantly had two men patrolling the 10-yard area around du Plessis’s bat in close catching positions.


It was however Steven Smith’s leg spin that rewarded Australia with a wicket. Du Plessis played all over a delivery that pitched around leg stump and was found, trapped in front of the wickets. It was a huge wicket and the high profile celebrations epitomized the importance of the ‘miracle man’s’ wicket.


Vernon Philander came in was the most aggressive of the South African batsmen but everything falls squarey in the hands of JP Duminy to save the Test for the hosts.


Brief scores:


Australia 494 for 7 decl. (David Warner 135, Michael Clarke 161*, Steven Smith 84; JP Duminy 4 for 73) & 303 for 5 (Chris Rogers 39,David Warner 145,Steven Smith 36*) lead South Africa 287 (Alviro Petersen 53, Hashim Amla 38,Vernon Philander 37* ; Mitchell Johnson 4 for 42 Ryan Harris 3 for 63) &  201 for 7 (Hashim Amla 41, Ab De Villiers 43 Faf du Plessis 47; Ryan Harris 2 for 24, James Pattinson 2 for 32) by 310  runs.


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