South Africa gave themselves an outside chance in the second Test in Adelaide with five Australian wickets late on the third day.
The hosts, leading by 162 runs after the first-innings, were sailing along at 77 without loss before a tumble of wickets gave the Proteas renewed heart. At stumps, Australia were 111 for five with first-innings’ double centurion Michael Clarke on nine and century-maker Mike Hussey not out on five – an overall lead of 273 with five wickets left.
Rory Kleinveldt bowled his team back into the contest with three wickets in 18 balls and Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel grabbed one each to add an edge. South Africa had been facing the possibility of a huge run chase. The biggest successful chase at the Adelaide Oval was 315, which Australia achieved to overhaul England in 1902.
“We’re still in there with a chance,” said all-rounder Faf du Plessis. “What we did in the last session was exactly what we needed to still have a sniff in the game. If they just went at four-an-over with no wickets, we would have been under massive pressure.”
Spinner Nathan Lyon, who could have a major say for Australia over the final two days, said, “We’re pretty happy with where we are sitting at the moment with a 273-run lead. It’s going to be hard work in the morning, but hopefully we will be able to fight the reverse swing and spin.”
Earlier, South Africa were dismissed for 388 with debutant Du Plessis the last out for 78.
From jeers to cheers for Du Plessis
A nervous Du Plessis was jeered by the Australian crowd as he tripped his way down the stairs and onto the pitch for his Test batting debut.
But he returned to the dressing room a hero, having helped his team claw their way back in the second Test.
“I had an absolute shocker going down he stairs,” said Du Plessis. “My boot clipped one of the stairs and my whole foot came out. I had to kneel in front of the whole crowd there, while they were abusing me from both sides.”
But when he returned to the team dressing room as the last man out 205 minutes later, Du Plessis said the crowd ‘were much, much better’ towards him.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 25th, 2012.
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