Australia v South Africa, 2nd Test, Adelaide, 3rd day November 24, 2012

South Africa fight, but still face hefty chase

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Australia 550 and 5 for 111 (Warner 41, Kleinveldt 3-14) lead South Africa 388 (Smith 122, du Plessis 78, Kallis 58, Hilfenhaus 3-49) by 273 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Plenty of things went right for South Africa on the third day in Adelaide. Faf du Plessis made an impressive 78 on debut, Jacques Kallis shrugged off the pain of his injured hamstring to score a fighting fifty, and Rory Kleinveldt took three quick wickets late in the day to rattle Australia's top order. But when stumps rolled around, one unavoidable fact remained: South Africa were going to need to complete the biggest Adelaide Oval chase in 110 years - and possibly of all time - to take a 1-0 lead in the series.

Adelaide might be renowned as a batting paradise but the way the surface can break up on the fourth and fifth days can make run-scoring difficult. The biggest successful chase in Adelaide Oval Tests was 315, scored by Joe Darling's Australians in 1902, and by stumps on Saturday, Michael Clarke's side already led by 273. Clarke was at the crease on 9 and Michael Hussey was on 5, and the score had moved on to 5 for 111 thanks largely to a solid opening stand from David Warner and Ed Cowan.

But if any team knows about hefty pursuits it is Graeme Smith's outfit. Four years ago, they chased down 414 at the WACA, with only four wickets down, and six members of that side are also playing in Adelaide. They can also take heart from the fact that James Pattinson is almost certain not to bowl in the fourth innings after being sent for scans to assess pain that he felt in his left side early on the third day. Kallis can bat injured, but Pattinson won't be much good with the ball.

The Australians will hope for the same kind of bowling success that Kleinveldt and his colleagues enjoyed on the third afternoon. Cowan and Warner put on 77 for the opening wicket and Warner was enjoying the chance to thrash boundaries off Imran Tahir's legspin when Kleinveldt ended the party. He drew a leading edge from Warner, who was caught at cover for 41, and two balls later Rob Quiney's Test future was placed in serious jeopardy when he edged behind for a duck, an almost identical dismissal to the first innings.

Kleinveldt also got rid of Cowan, who on 29 played on to leave Australia at 3 for 91 and Tahir relieved after he should have had Cowan earlier in the innings. Cowan had been caught at cover off a leading edge and Tahir celebrated what he thought was his first wicket of the game, but replays confirmed what the umpire suspected - he had over-stepped, an unforgivable error for a slow bowler, and Cowan was briefly reprieved.

The wickets kept coming as stumps approached. Ricky Ponting played on to Dale Steyn for 16 and the nightwatchman Peter Siddle lasted 16 deliveries for his 1 before he edged behind off Morne Morkel. The South Africans were pumped up. They sensed the momentum shifting, and stumps could not come soon enough for the Australians. At least they knew that their efforts in the first innings had given them the advantage.

Australia's lead might have been much bigger were it not for the determination shown by Kallis and du Plessis. They combined for a 93-run partnership for the eighth wicket that held Australia up significantly. Kallis, who injured his hamstring early on the first day, batted at No.9 and was hampered in his range of movement and running between the wickets, but remarkably toughed it out and picked up most of his runs through boundaries.

Kallis struck ten fours and a six, pulling, cutting and driving despite the pain in his leg. He reached 58 from 93 deliveries before he was finally dismissed, caught attempting a sweep off the bowling of Clarke. The umpire Billy Bowden gave Kallis not out but Clarke was convinced by the catcher Matthew Wade to ask for a review and the replay showed the ball clearly deflecting off the batsman's glove before lobbing up to the wicketkeeper.

That left du Plessis with only the final two batsmen for company but, as he had during the first part of his innings, he showed excellent composure and lifted the scoring tempo with a series of well-timed lofted strokes, down the ground and over cover. He lost Morne Morkel, who was bowled around his legs by Nathan Lyon, and when du Plessis chipped a catch to short mid-on off the bowling of Hilfenhaus for 78, the South Africans were all out for 388 on the stroke of tea.

Ever since he walked to the crease, du Plessis had looked like a Test batsman. He showed a solid defence and was able to work the ball with strength through the gaps on the leg side. His half-century came up from from his 124th delivery, with a single pushed through mid-on, and his performance will give the selectors something to think about when their batting line-up is back to full fitness.

In the first session, South Africa had struggled and added only 56 runs for the loss of five wickets. Siddle provided the spark Australia needed by getting rid of Smith, who added only 11 to his overnight score and was caught behind for 122. Smith was given out by the umpire Billy Bowden and immediately asked for a review; Hot Spot showed a faint mark that supported Bowden's decision but Smith was clearly unhappy with the outcome.

Siddle also removed AB de Villiers, who on 1 was struck dead in line and saw Bowden's finger being raised almost before the Australians appealed. Out of hope more than anything, de Villiers also asked for a review but there was no reprieve. Kallis did not walk to the wicket at No.7 as expected, and instead the South Africans sent Steyn and Kleinveldt in ahead of him.

Neither man had any lasting impact, though, Steyn caught at slip for 1 when Hilfenhaus curved a ball away and Kleinveldt comprehensively losing his off stump, out for a duck when he tried to thump Hilfenhaus through the leg side. It completed a very successful period for Australia in which they had collected 5 for 17, beginning with the dismissal of Jacques Rudolph, who added only four to his score.

On 29, Rudolph was enticed by an excellent delivery from Lyon, whose flight and drop meant Rudolph's drive flew straight to Quiney at cover. It was the perfect start for Australia, whose bowlers had struggled on the second day. By stumps, the question was how they would cope on the final two days without Pattinson, who pulled up injured bowling his second over of the day. Clarke will need plenty from his remaining bowlers, because as he knows all too well, the South Africans don't mind a big chase.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • othello22 on November 24, 2012, 23:33 GMT

    Shaggy076 & Meety - I hope you are right, but everyone was saying the same thing in Perth. "It can't be done", they said. Then they did it. After the Cape Town debacle last year, I refuse to underestimate this Aussie side's ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I will feel comfortable only when the match is won.

  • Moppa on November 24, 2012, 22:49 GMT

    @Ralph Argus Zielke: congrats, one of the most ignorant posts on this website I've seen, and that's saying something. The last innings was one of Lyon's best in Test cricket, and 2 for whatever don't reflect how well he bowled. Compare to Tahir and how Day 1 turned out! @JG2704, I wish you were right that Aust are a 60% chance of winning, but I'd say it's more 50/30/20. South Africa would be 50/50 in a sub-350 chase without Pattinson (Smith is the arguably the greatest 4th innings batsman in history). @TommytuckerSaffa, yeah, judging by the lack of comments here and the stream of excuses in Brisbane, you'd think Duminy was a better bowler than Pattinson! Hilarious! Given Kallis' injury, Australia can't and won't rely on that as an excuse if we lose, but I'd say if Patto was fit, the odds from here were more like 70/20/10.

  • dummy4fb on November 24, 2012, 22:48 GMT

    @bluefunk - Flogging has the same meaning as thrash, annhialate, Shtoomp, dominate, bash. If you think using any of these terms in relation to a cricket match is racism then you need to go back to school.

  • Supa_SAFFA on November 24, 2012, 22:42 GMT

    The match is still delicately poised but I reckon the outcome will be decided during Tahir's opening spell on Day 4. Smith would do well to bring himself and DuPlessis on if the pace bowlers need a rest.

  • dummy4fb on November 24, 2012, 22:37 GMT

    Whilst the discussion about batting form is being given the beating it deserves in the media I find it strange that no one has mentioned the Keepers inability to catch the ball close to the stumps. Wades keeping has been well below the expected standard for someone who's job it is to catch the ball. He has yet to make a stumping from a clean take and the only stumping he managed in this test was because Amla was so overcommited Wade had time to recover from the inevitable fumbles.

  • RednWhiteArmy on November 24, 2012, 22:37 GMT

    @sawifan Im afraid alastair cooks 277 or whatever it was against australia at the gabba in 2010 was better than clarkes innings. Why? Simple. Cook doesnt hide from the new ball.

  • Shaggy076 on November 24, 2012, 22:33 GMT

    Othello 22 - I think the Perth history is irrelevant, Perth pitch stays hard throughout and plays a lot less tricks than Adelaide. I think if the South Africans win from here it would be an even better performance than that test. I know there is a lot of talent there but it would be an amazing performance if it was done. If AUstralia add another 100 runs and you would need 380 runs and bat through two new balls, a couple of reverse swinging balls and a crumbling pitch.

  • Meety on November 24, 2012, 21:57 GMT

    @ bluefunk on (November 24 2012, 10:20 AM GMT) - I don't believe there was any racism involved in Roebucks case, we are on a sports site, where flogging is a common term to describe the magnitude of a victory.

  • Meety on November 24, 2012, 21:53 GMT

    @othello22 on (November 24 2012, 21:14 PM GMT) - Perth will only give the Saffas confidence (not a bad thing), but is totally irrelevant as History says, batting 4th at AO is VERY tough. In Adelaide's long history, there have only been 12 team innings higher than what Oz already lead by. SHOULD Pup & Huss get some runs, & Oz add another 100 runs for their last 5 wickets, there is ONLY ONE 4th innings higher than 370, by India in 1978. That match was notable, in that Jeff Thomson got injured in a colission that day & only bowled 27 balls for the match. Oz MAY have that problem with Patto? One advantage for Sth Africa is IF, they wrap Oz up in say 3 hours, at least they will have SOME batting on Day 4, batting Day 5 will NOT be easy.

  • dummy4fb on November 24, 2012, 21:17 GMT

    Cardmak - Quiney was picked because he's been outstanding in shield cricket and was outstanding against South Africa in the Australia A game just before the first test. Personally I'd like to see Quiney and Cowan open the batting and Clarke at number three. The big question is what to do with Ponting...

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