Ntini and Martyn set up thrilling final day
Makhaya Ntini charged through Adam Gilchrist and Shane Warne after Nicky Boje finally removed Hussey, and Jacques Kallis, a debutant captain under unfamiliar pressure, ended a dangerous drive from Andrew Symonds. The last three batsmen fell for nine runs in a dramatic turnaround as South Africa's mood changed from one of impending defeat to hope of a first positive result in six Tests against Australia this summer.
Through the chaos Martyn remained calm, like he had throughout an innings that was crucial to his career prospects, and Australia finished at 248 for 6. The reshuffled order meant Hussey was promoted to his preferred spot of opener and while his place was assured after his brilliant entry this summer, Martyn was at an important stage in a three-match comeback that was not convincing until today. Trevor Hohns, the chairman of selectors, picked Martyn's experience for this type of uncompromising situation and by stumps he had repaid them. On Tuesday he will aim for a 13th century and an Australian victory.
Playing with casual determination, Martyn deflected the fast men and spent a lot of time taking runs from Boje, often through cut shots. This was the version of the player who wooed audiences worldwide before the Ashes blip that he worried had ended his career. Given an unlikely chance, Martyn waited until the third Test to reconfirm his capabilities as a match turner.
He hit 12 boundaries and looked unflustered in his 184-ball stay that was crucial throughout the final two sessions, and Australia were relived that he was unbeaten at the end with Brett Lee on 9. The second new ball is due in nine deliveries and Ntini, who picked up 3 for 60, and Pollock will be dangerous on a surface that offers the most when the ball is hard and shiny.
His early performance was not a smooth one and he could have been dismissed to lbw appeals from Andre Nel on 0 and Pollock on 5. Both were rejected by Steve Bucknor, and Hussey was also lucky to escape an edge to Mark Boucher off Makhaya Ntini on 19. The mistakes were costly and South Africa finally got their man when Boje trapped him playing back with the score on 198 and the target less than 100.
Symonds came in and thrashed a brutal 29 off 26 balls that reduced the aim further and just as a fast finish seemed likely he edged Kallis to Boucher. Hitting a six over cover, driving fours and pulling two more boundaries, Symonds eased the pressure on his team-mates before leaving as quickly as he arrived at 224. Gilchrist then fell first ball, Warne went with a similar edge to Ntini and the South Africans were back.
After reaching 258 in their second innings, the home side's push for victory started well when AB de Villiers took a sharp diving slips catch to a Matthew Hayden nick from Ntini before Ricky Ponting (20) collected a fine inside edge to an unconvincing drive off Kallis. With the score at 33 for 2, Kallis deserved to be pleased, but he was hindered by an illness to Nel, who was visibly struggling and able to deliver only two overs before leaving the ground for treatment.
Australia also had their problems with Langer after he was hit in the head by Ntini with the opening ball of the first innings on Saturday. Reports ranged from him batting No. 4, which didn't happen, to playing if the team really needed him or not at all. He turned up at the ground late in the day dressed in street clothes and as the wickets fell did not pull on his whites.
There was no doubt about the performance of Lee as he finished off South Africa's innings in only 15 balls this morning, knocking over Boucher for 63 and Ntini for 0. The smooth end gave Australia some useful momentum, but despite an impressive push by Martyn and Hussey the game had ebbed again by stumps.
Matthew Hayden c de Villiers b Ntini 0 (0 for 1)
Defensive push to ball angling away and diving catch in the cordon
Ricky Ponting c Boucher b Kallis 20 (33 for 2)
Inside edge to gentle drive
Michael Hussey lbw Boje 89 (198 for 3)
Playing back and spinning sharply
Andrew Symonds c Boucher b Kallis 29 (228 for 4)
Moved away off the pitch and clever catch
Adam Gilchrist c Boucher b Ntini 0 (229 for 5)
Around the wicket, angled in, moved away and took the edge
Shane Warne c Boucher b Ntini 3 (237 for 6)
Fine edge flirting at rising ball
AB de Villiers b Clark 4 (9 for 1)
No shot to off-cutter that tipped off bail
Boeta Dippenaar c Hayden b Clark 20 (55 for 2)
Drove hard to gully; great diving catch to fielder's left
Herschelle Gibbs c Martyn b Warne 53 (100 for 3)
Full toss skewed to mid-on
Ashwell Prince c Symonds b Warne 9 (120 for 4)
Off pad to leg slip
Jacques Kallis lbw Clark 27 (130 for 5)
Played forward to a ball that nipped back
Jacques Rudolph c Gilchrist b Clark 0 (140 for 6)
Simple edge to wicketkeeper
Shaun Pollock c Gilchrist b Lee 44 (186 for 7)
Top-edged pull from short and wide ball
Nicky Boje c Symonds b Warne 4 (194 for 8)
Scooped up ball at square leg from high full toss
Mark Boucher c Gilchrist b Lee 63 (258 for 9)
Top edge trying to pull and leaping take from Gilchrist
Makhaya Ntini b Lee 0 (258)
Full ball hit leg stump
Peter English is the Australasian editor of Cricinfo