SA’s heroic fightback not enough to stop Australia from winning series 2-1 in Graeme Smith’s farewell Test
Cape Town: Australia have won the series against South Africa after a nail-biting 245-run victory in the third Test at Newlands.
The tourists came into the final day needing just six wickets to claim victory but the Proteas dug in and frustrated them with Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn putting on 19 runs in 15 overs for the ninth-wicket to guide the hosts towards an unlikely draw.
JP Duminy of South Africa is struck by a delivery from Ryan Harris of Australia during Day 5 of the third Test in Newlands yesterday. Duminy hit 43 off 99 balls. Pic/Getty Images
But when Steyn fell to Ryan Harris with just 29 balls left in the day, Morne Morkel followed two balls later to leave Philander stranded on 51 and see Australia to a 2-1 series victory. It was a sad exit for departing South Africa captain Graeme Smith who announced on Tuesday that he would end his international career after this Test.
Slow but steady
AB de Villiers had taken 100 balls to reach his overnight 16 and, as expected, the pace did not pick up as South Africa began the attempt to guide themselves towards the draw in chase of 511.
Just eight runs came off the bat in the first 10 overs of the day along with four leg-byes off a Harris delivery which appeared to have De Villiers in a spot of bother on the pull before he glanced it off his shoulders.
Both De Villiers and Kyle Abbott broke the shackles briefly with boundaries but they merely punctuated spells of three and five consecutive maidens as the hosts crawled their way through the morning. Eventually, Australia's persistence paid off as James Pattinson got Abbott with an absolute beauty. The ball pitched on a good length and then nipped back to clip the top of off stump to remove the nightwatchman for seven from 89 balls.
Australia celebrate their series win yesterday. PIC/AFP
Abbott had certainly done his job to soak up time and Australia may have been looking back to 2012 when Faf du Plessis strode to the crease.
It was Du Plessis who batted out the entire fifth day at Adelaide on his Test debut to secure the unlikeliest of draws for the Proteas and similar heroics were required once more. He and De Villiers attempted an encore but could not stop the visitors from a memorable win.
Dubai: Australia replaced India at number two position in the Test team rankings by virtue of their hard-fought 245-run victory over South Africa in the third and final Test in Cape Town yesterday.
Australia had entered the series in third position on 111 rating points and the victory handed them four ratings points which means that they finish the year on 115 points, three points ahead of India, at the April 1 cut-off date.
It also means that Australia have won a cash award of $370,000 while third-placed India will have to settle with $265,000. England will receive $160,000 for finishing fourth. South Africa, thanks to their commanding lead at the top of the table, retains the mace in spite of dropping to 127 ratings points and will also get richer by $475,000.