3rd Test, Sydney, January 04 - 08, 2023, South Africa tour of Australia
(f/o) 255 & 106/2

Match drawn

Player Of The Match
Player Of The Series
213 runs

Erwee and Bavuma hold Australia off to ensure a draw

South Africa muster belated fight to end a disappointing series on a better note

Australia claimed the series 2-0, Australia vs South Africa, 3rd Test, Sydney, 5th day, January 8, 2023

Australia claimed the series 2-0  •  Getty Images

South Africa 255 and 106 for 2 (Erwee 42*, Bavuma 17*, Hazlewood 1-9) drew with Australia 475 for 4 dec
South Africa defied Australia's bold push for an improbable victory, and series sweep, as the third Test ended in a draw at the SCG.
After following on, South Africa were 106 for 2 in their second innings when play ended five overs before the close. The surface played slowly and did not deteriorate as expected with South Africa mustering belated fight to end a disappointing series on a better note.
Australia would have booked a spot in the World Test Championship final in June with victory, but one drawn match in the upcoming four-Test series in India will prove enough.
Given their batting frailties, South Africa will be relieved to have escaped with a draw - their first such result since 2017.
South Africa were nervous after skipper Dean Elgar fell before tea when he gloved a short Pat Cummins delivery to be caught behind. An under-pressure Elgar's wretched series ended with just 56 runs at an average of 9.33 marked by struggles against short leg-side deliveries.
After tea, spinner Nathan Lyon was left frustrated after a review on an lbw decision on Heinrich Klaasen went against him. The not-out decision was upheld even though replays showed the ball hitting middle stump.
His mood soured further three balls later when Klaasen, playing his first Test match since 2019, stood his ground after edging a delivery to Steven Smith, who claimed a low catch at slip.
But replays cast doubt over whether the ball touched the grass when it went into Smith's fingers and it was enough for third umpire Richard Kettleborough to give not out.
Klaasen's luck ran out when he was clean bowled by a cracking reverse swinging delivery from Josh Hazlewood to provide a glimmer of hope for Australia with 20 overs remaining.
South Africa were 82 for 2 with 15 overs left but Australia's push continued with Cummins giving himself one last burst without reward.
Cummins had also tried part-time spinners Smith, Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head, who claimed the only wicket in the morning session, but to no avail.
Left-arm spinner Ashton Agar, who was wicketless in 14 overs in the first innings, was surprisingly backed to share the new ball alongside Hazlewood.
In his first Test match since 2017, Agar again struggled with his accuracy in what has been a tough return in an audition ahead of Australia's tour of India. He finished wicketless from 22 overs in the match.
South Africa started the day precariously placed at 149 for 6 after Cummins and Hazlewood bowled superbly late on day four in fading light.
But Harmer and Marco Jansen batted cautiously to thwart Australia's attack. Jansen played a rearguard until being dislodged caught behind by Head with a delivery outside off stump that stayed low.
But an 85-run partnership between Harmer and Keshav Maharaj pushed South Africa close to the follow-on target and likely safety from a series whitewash.
Maharaj reached his half-century on the first ball after lunch before falling to Hazlewood with South Africa 24 runs short of avoiding following on.
Having been preferred over Scott Boland, Hazlewood repaid the faith of the selectors on his return with four wickets after suffering a side strain against West Indies in the opening Test of the home season.
Maharaj's dismissal triggered an all too-familiar rush of wickets for South Africa to set up an intriguing finish although it proved an anti-climax.
Australia ran out of time in a truncated match, where four straight sessions across days three and four were washed out. Forty-nine overs were also lost to rain and bad light on the opening two days to continue a run of rain-affected matches at the traditional SCG New Year's Test.
But Australia thoroughly dominated South Africa throughout a one-sided series to complete an unbeaten home Test season after earlier thrashings over West Indies in Perth and Adelaide.
Australia's massive first innings was built on an unbeaten 195 from opener Usman Khawaja and 104 from Smith, who passed Don Bradman with his 30th Test century.
Having won three straight Test series in Australia, South Africa were a shadow with their batting unable to muster much of a challenge.
Apart from fiery quick Anrich Nortje, their attack also underwhelmed with spearhead Kagiso Rabada taking just three wickets at 87.66 in the last two matches after an eight-wicket haul on the bowler-friendly Gabba surface. South Africa's disastrous series also ended their chances of qualifying for the WTC final.

Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth