Again it’s been left to AB de Villiers to take the fight to the visitors with the top-ranked batsman in the world not out at stumps on day four having reached his century, of balls faced, with his 16 runs irrelevant to the cause at this stage.
To win South Africa need an impossible 440 more runs with six wickets in hand.
Australia will have an extra hour when day five commences to throw their all at the home side as they continue to make up for time lost on day two.
Pace got the wickets again once Michael Clarke called time on his side’s innings, not before David Warner continued his onslaught from day three to reach 145 after Chris Rogers got run out on 39. Alex Doolan struggled for his 37 while Shane Watson, promoted to no 4 smacked 25 off 17 balls.
After first innings centurion Clarke went for a golden duck, Steve Smith went to town with 36 off just 20 balls before the declaration more than 500 runs ahead.
Retiring captain Graeme Smith’s last innings was in line with his miserable series when he caught by Doolan off Mitchell Johnson’s bowling for just three.
Alviro Petersen didn’t fare much better when he went LBW to Ryan Harris for the relentless quick’s 100th Test wicket.
Dean Elgar handled 14 balls but couldn’t trouble the score board, bowled by Johnson for a duck.
Then after a gallant showing in poise and technique from Hashim Amla and De Villiers, James Pattinson struck with a reverse swinging gem that passed Amla’s review and the star was gone for 41 off 109 balls.
With nightwatchman Kyle Abbott in with the wicket keeper and likely successor to Smith, the only good news for South Africa is they have serial tormentor Faf du Plessis and JP Duminy, recognised batsmen, to come.
But they have a mammoth effort to survive the day.
With the ball 41 overs old the Aussies will get another new rock after lunch should the hosts survive that long.
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