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Ken Borland

Proteas mend some of the holes in their leaky batting bucket

Posted on December 20, 2023 by Ken

The Proteas have managed to mend some of the holes in their leaky batting bucket and will go into the final session of the third Test against Australia with nine wickets in hand at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Sarel Erwee (44 balls) and Heinrich Klaasen (21 deliveries) are both on 18 not out at tea as they took Souithy Africa to 46-1 at tea. A minimum of 32 overs are scheduled to be bowled after the break, with the deficit still 174 runs.

Captain Dean Elgar was once again caught sparring down the leg side, off opposite number Pat Cummins, for 10, bringing an end to another struggle at the crease.

Earlier, South Africa had narrowly failed to avoid the follow-on as they were bowled out for 255, 21 short, at 2pm in Sydney.

That they came so close was largely thanks to Simon Harmer and Keshav Maharaj in the lower-order, who showed tremendous resistance as they added 85 for the eigjth wicket.

Their stout effort provided a glimpse of what was possible on a reasonably good pitch if the top-order played with application and positivity, trusting their own games.

Harmer was well-equipped for a long stay at the crease, deserving great praise for his defiant 47 in three-and-a-half hours, while Maharaj did his utmost to see South Africa past the follow-on score with his 53 off 81 balls. He got himself in first, and then backed his attacking game as he struck six fours and a six, pulling especially well.

Although they ultimately failed to get to 276 to avoid the follow-on, it was just as important that Harmer and Maharaj took time out of the game, leaving Australia with just a small window of opportunity to bowl the Proteas out in their second innings.

South Africa had begun the final day on 149/6 and Marco Jansen continued his tenacious stay at the crease, batting for more than an hour-and-a-half in scoring 11 off 78 balls before edging part-time off-spinner Travis Head to the wicketkeeper.

The impressive Josh Hazlewood eventually broke South Africa’s resistance in an impressive spell after lunch. Using a hint of reverse-swing, he trapped Maharaj lbw and then bowled Harmer off the inside-edge, to finish with four for 48 in 23 overs, a superb comeback from injury.

Off-spinner Nathan Lyon then caught-and-bowled Kagiso Rabada (3) to end the innings.

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