Australia on top after Symonds's strikes
Australia pressed forward in the second Test, bowling South Africa out for 311 and then reaching 2 for 110 at stumps on the third day, securing a sizeable lead of 154. It was a combined bowling effort, led by the pacy Brett Lee and the effervescent Andrew Symonds, that cost South Africa its last eight wickets for 142 runs. With two days left to go, it will take a mammoth effort from South Africa to stave off defeat on a pitch that is occasionally two paced and consistently taking spin.
When the day began, full of hope for South Africa on 2 for 169, it was Lee who rattled the batsmen. He softened up Jacques Kallis with a fiery spell, hit him on the helmet, and then cleaned him up with a fierce yorker. Then Lee returned with the new ball, just two overs before lunch, and removed Jacques Rudolph, South Africa's hero from the first Test at Perth, with a perfectly pitched outswinger that swung back in to the left-hander just enough to beat the bat and hit the top of off stump.
Meanwhile Shane Warne continued his hold over Ashwell Prince - he has dismissed him in each innings of the series - when Ricky Ponting reacted brilliantly to take a sharp one-handed catch at bat-pad. When Prince was dismissed South Africa had slumped to 4 for 192.
On the second day Gibbs was unsure whether to attack or defend, and he continued much in the same tentative vein on the third morning. Occasionally chancing his arm for the booming drive, but otherwise settling for defensive play. He was especially troubled by Warne and Stuart MacGill, who got good purchase off the pitch, spinning the ball sharply.
Mark Boucher's arrival at the crease helped ease the pressure on South Africa. He adopted a positive approach, looking to press on and score runs and backed himself to play his favourite shots. But, just as he was settling into a groove, and had reached 23 with four boundaries, a bit of bad luck sent him on his way. He missed the line of a big inswinger from Symonds and was adjudged lbw, although replays suggested that the ball would have sailed over the stumps.
Symonds, keen not just ride on umpiring largesse, produced a peach of a delivery to Gibbs. For someone who had scored 94 and been at the crease 234 balls, Gibbs was still remarkably tentative. After being set up by a variety of deliveries that in turn went straight through or moved away, he failed to react quickly enough to an inducker and was bowled. Then Symonds made it three wickets for his spell with one that kept a bit low and trapped Shaun Pollock in front of middle stump. Nicky Boje was quickly cleaned up, sweeping all over Warne, and South Africa were 9 for 291. Some lusty biffing from the last pair pushed the score on to 311, but South Africa still 44 adrift, had to then contend with Australia's second innings. Symonds, with 3 for 15 from his last spell, and Lee, with three wickets of his own had caused the South Africans all kinds of problems.
Phil Jaques, who did not last long in the first innings, made only 28 in his second dig before he missed a pull shot against Nel coming round the wicket and was trapped lbw. By then, though, the opening stand was worth over 50, and Matthew Hayden was in ominous touch. Ponting was content to play second fiddle to Hayden till he played back to a fullish delivery from Pollock that came in a touch and was plumb in front. Brad Hodge, once again cheered on by his home crowd, kept Hayden (45 not out) company as Australia closed the day on 2 for 110.
Graeme Smith lbw b Lee 22 (1 for 36)
Rapped on the pad by a ball heading for leg stump
AB de Villiers lbw b McGrath 61 (2 for 122)
Misjudged a fullish one, shaped to cut and missed
Jacques Kallis b Lee 23 (3 for 184)
Missed a yorker the ball after receiving a searing short ball
Ashwell Prince c Ponting b Warne 6 (4 for 192)
Brilliant one-handed reflex catch at bat-pad
Jacques Rudolph b Lee 13 (5 for 214)
Perfect outswinger took the top of off
Mark Boucher lbw b Symonds 23 (6 for 260)
Unlucky to be adjudged lbw, well forward and hit high
Herschelle Gibbs b Symonds 94 (7 for 265)
Late on an inswinger
Shaun Pollock lbw b Symonds 9 (8 for 281)
Could not get bat to one that kept low
Nicky Boje b Warne 12 (9 for 291)
Played over a full delivery
Andre Nel c Hussey b MacGill 14 (10 for 311)
Leading edge trying to hit through the leg side
Australia 2nd innings
Phil Jaques lbw b Nel 28 (1 for 53)
Pulled and missed one from round the wicket
Ricky Ponting lbw b Pollock 11 (2 for 82)
Played back to a fullish ball heading for middle stump
Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Cricinfo