Can the Proteas take the first Test against Australia to the fifth day?

04 March 2018 - 12:41 By Khanyiso Tshwaku‚ At Kingsmead
Australian bowler Nathan Lyon (TOP) breaks the stumps to run out South African batsman AB de Villiers (2L) during the fourth day of the first Test cricket match between South Africa and Australia at The Kingsmead Stadium in Durban on March 4, 2018.
Australian bowler Nathan Lyon (TOP) breaks the stumps to run out South African batsman AB de Villiers (2L) during the fourth day of the first Test cricket match between South Africa and Australia at The Kingsmead Stadium in Durban on March 4, 2018.
Image: MARCO LONGARI / AFP

The big question that lingers at lunch on the fourth day is whether the Proteas will take the game to the fifth day‚ if not at least bat for the rest.

With all their blue chip batsmen in the hut‚ Australia need a further six wickets to record their third consecutive Test match win against South Africa at Kingsmead.

The Proteas were 63/4‚ needing a further 354 to win in what could have been the second highest successful fourth innings run chase if the due batting diligence was there.

Whether they have the fortitude to see out the next two sessions remains the question. Should they do that‚ it'll be a meritorious achievement.

The die was cast on the collapse when South Africa were reduced to 39/3 after king-pin AB de Villiers (0) was needlessly run out.

The panicky De Villiers called for a run that was not on after Aiden Markram (38*) flicked the ball to square leg. David Warner's throw beat De Villiers to the non-striker's end.

The delirious celebrations the Australians engaged in afterwards was indicative of how significant the wicket was.

They couldn't shift him in the first innings and judging on that peerless innings‚ De Villiers stood between Australia and victory.

All they needed was a bit of intelligent fielding and a hare-brained moment that betray the Proteas' frayed mindset.

Four overs later‚ Pat Cummins (1/8) extinguished any hopes of an Adelaide-type match saving rearguard when he detonated Faf du Plessis's (4) off stump with a brute of a delivery that cut back in off the surface.

Dean Elgar (nine) was the first to go in the seventh over when he feathered a Mitchell Starc (1/18) bouncer to Tim Paine.

Josh Hazlewood's (1/16) impassioned leg before wicket appeal won the favour of umpire Kumar Dharmasena to get rid of Hashim Amla (eight).

Amla‚ who's average in his home town will dip below an already paltry 20‚ reviewed the decision and while it was retained‚ the umpire's call meant he had to trudge off the ground for what has become a customary low score here.

The lack of batting spine made a mockery of South Africa's workmanlike bowling that dismissed Australia for 227 earlier in the morning.

The 189-run first innings lead meant the visitors could have a care-free batting approach and knowing the deterioration of the surface‚ all they needed was one wicket to get the dominos tumbling.

Resuming the day on 213/9‚ Cummins (26) and Hazlewood (nine) added 14 more runs before the former was castled by Keshav Maharaj (4/102).

The 35 combined runs Australia's fast bowlers scored would be more than what South Africa's premier batsmen would put together in the innings that followed.


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