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Australia on top after fast bowlers deliver

South Africa not asked to follow on, but with two days left in Cape Town Test plenty of hard work remains

Australia on top after fast bowlers deliver - Cricket News
Mitchell Johnson took 4 for 42 as Australia bowled South Africa out for 287 to take a 207-run first-iinings lead.
A canny bowling performance from Australia’s seamers edged the tourists towards a famous series victory, as Australia bowled South Africa out for 287 on Monday (March 3) to give itself a 207-run lead in the first innings of the third and decisive Test.
 
After Clarke declared Australia’s innings on its overnight total of 494 for seven, his bowlers showed great skill to maximise what assistance they could find. While Johnson (4 for 42) alternated between short-pitched deliveries and quicker ones angling across the right-handers to take his series tally to 19 wickets in five innings, Harris found reverse-swing and bowled two testing spells that yielded three big wickets.
 
South Africa will face those threats again in the second innings, when it is likely to be even more challenging as the dry pitch continues to wear.
 
With Michael Clarke opting not to enforce the follow-on, Australia openers David Warner and Chris Rogers put on 27 without loss to extend that lead to 234 and leave South Africa with a long two days ahead of it.
 
Clarke’s decision to declare overnight appeared to be a relatively straightforward one. Although Sunday’s rain had cleared during the night, it had freshened up a dry Cape Town and there were still some low clouds lurking as play got underway half an hour early.
 
Harris made the most of that with a skillful opening spell in which Graeme Smith was tested regularly before edging a full delivery through to Brad Haddin. It was the wicketkeeper’s 229th Test dismissal, which took him into the top 10 among wicketkeepers, and he celebrated by pulling off a blinder soon after as he leapt to his right to snaffle a Dean Elgar inside edge.
 
Meanwhile Alviro Petersen appeared to be taking the ‘get them before they get you’ approach to finding form, which led him to 50 off as many balls. As Petersen put on 53 with Hashim Amla, it appeared as though there was little in the pitch for South Africa to be concerned about.
 
However Johnson dismissed Petersen for the third innings in a row when the batsman fended at a short one and was caught down the leg side by Haddin for 53.
 
Amla continued to delight with some trademark flowing drives through the off side which were as good as any in the game, making it clear that it would take something special to dismiss him. Harris duly produced it, as he found reverse-swing to bend one through the gate and bowl Amla for 38.
 
It was a crushing blow for South Africa, reducing it to 121 for four, which became 146 for six after lunch as Harris and Johnson swung the ball in the most testing spell of the day. AB de Villiers was unnerved enough to tickle a wide Johnson delivery to second slip, before Harris found the edge of Duminy’s bat to give Haddin his fourth catch of the day.
 
Were it not for Haddin’s fumbles, however, South Africa would have found itself in even deeper trouble. Faf du Plessis was on 30 when he came down the track to Nathan Lyon and failed to make contact with the ball, only to see Haddin fail to take the ball cleanly. Two balls later Du Plessis clipped to Alex Doolan, who failed to hold on at short leg, and a couple of overs later he saw Haddin drop a brush down the leg side.
 
Du Plessis went on to score 67 in a 95-run stand with Vernon Philander either side of tea that gave South Africa hope of avoiding a major deficit. But when he went the same way as De Villiers, it was clear that Clarke would be left with a decision over the follow-on.
 
Even with Dale Steyn adding an entertaining 28 with Philander (37 not out) clinging on at the other end, South Africa fell short. However Harris had clearly run out of steam, and with the pitch only likely to deteriorate over the next two days, Clarke’s decision to bat again and add some quick runs was easy enough.

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