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Ken Borland

Proteas secure draw to avoid last round of smarmy remarks

Posted on December 30, 2023 by Ken

The Proteas at least spared themselves one last round of smarmy remarks about their abilities as they secured a draw in the third and final Test against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday.

Having already lost the series 2-0, South Africa needed to bat through the final day with 14 wickets in hand. Simon Harmer and Keshav Maharaj showed some stout resistance in the lower-order as the Proteas made 255 in their first innings.

It was just 21 runs shy of avoiding the follow-on, but it did at least mean there were only 47 overs left for them to survive in the final day’s play, and they comfortably batted themselves to safety on 106/2.

Captain Dean Elgar’s torrid tour continued as he was once again caught down the leg-side, sparring at a lifter, from opposite number Pat Cummins, having struggled to 10.

But his opening partner, Sarel Erwee, was looking solid, and Heinrich Klaasen, in the unaccustomed position of No.3, batted with a lot more positivity than in the first innings as they added 48 for the second wicket.

Klaasen was eventually bowled for 35 as Josh Hazlewood, making an impressive return from injury, snuck a superb reverse-swinger through his defences.

But Erwee fought through to 42 not out in 125 balls at the crease, Temba Bavuma being with him on 17 not out when the captains agreed to call it a draw with five overs remaining.

Earlier, the effort of Harmer and Maharaj, adding 85 for the eighth wicket either side of lunch showed that the fighting spirit in the Proteas side is probably still kosher.

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.

South Africa had begun the final day on 149/6 and Marco Jansen extended 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.

Hazlewood eventually broke South Africa’s resistance in an excellent spell after lunch. Using a hint of reverse-swing, he trapped Maharaj lbw and then bowled Harmer off the inside-edge, to finish with 4/48 in 23 overs.

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