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Australia takes charge

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Wednesday, March 05, 2014

CAPE TOWN, South Africa - Australia hold a 234-run lead over South Africa at stumps on day three of the Test series decider and are well placed to record their greatest achievement under the captaincy of Michael Clarke.

Vernon Philander frustrated the tourists for over three hours yesterday in an unbeaten knock of 37, but they had both time and runs up their sleeve following Clarke's declaration at 7-494 before the start of play.

The Proteas fought back well from 6-146 but were eventually bowled out for 287 in Cape Town, with David Warner (25 not out) helping Australia race to 0-27 after six overs.

South Africa have much work to do if they're to avoid a defeat that would result in a first Test series loss since March, 2009 — also against Australia at home.

Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris bowled magnificently as the world's No.1 Test side crumbled in response to Clarke's masterful knock of 161 not out.

Harris (3-63 from 22 overs) returned to form with devastating effect, swinging the ball well to collect the scalps of second-Test centurions Hashim Amla (38) and JP Duminy (four).

The 34-year-old, who will undergo knee surgery after this Test, also removed captain Graeme Smith for five to start the rot.

Johnson (4-42 from 19 overs) dismissed Alviro Petersen for 53, in-form AB de Villiers for 14, and top-scorer Faf du Plessis for 67 to overtake Jason Gillespie and rise to sixth on Australia's all-time Test wicker-takers.

The left-armer also smashed the logo on Dale Steyn's helmet, and then had the hamstrung paceman out edging for 28.

Smith threw the new ball to Morne Morkel and Kyle Abbott in place of Steyn and Philander, but they proved ineffectual.

Du Plessis famously batted for almost eight hours to secure his side a draw on Test debut 16 months ago in Adelaide, and looked to repeat the dogged dose at Newlands.

But after offering three chances in the second session, he was undone after tea by an ill-fated drive and low catch from Warner at gully.

The right-hander had raised the opposition's ire in the second session when he picked up the ball to deliver it back to Johnson, and also ducked off for a lengthy toilet break.

Philander was at the centre of the rearguard, but the tourists needed 2.5 overs of the second new ball to polish the tail off.

Brad Haddin pocketed four catches, moving to ninth on the all-time wicketkeeping record for most Test dismissals with 232.

None were more spectacular than that which removed Dean Elgar for 11, with the 36-year-old flinging himself to the right and reeling in the ball with one hand.





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