This has not been a run chase, rather a run chastening. South Africa, the world's No 1 Test team and, according to Faf du Plessis prior to today's play, "a proud nation", crumbled into shocking disarray with ball and bat here in Cape Town.
Australia were able to score at more than five runs an over in all, thanks to a smashing 8.2 runs per over after lunch. At 303 for 5, captain Michael Clarke declared, with the rampant David Warner out for 145, his second century of the match. It meant he had an astonishing series average scoring-rate of 86 per 100 balls.
In came South Africa. Retiring captain Graeme Smith was given a standing ovation and the Australia players lined up respectfully, but he was soon on his way back to the pavilion – kissing the Protea on his helmet – for three, ending a miserable series with a 7.5 average. Good reason to leave the stage.
Soon South Africa had also lost Alviro Petersen and Dean Elgar, and were reduced to 15 for 3. A recovery through A B de Villiers and Hashim Amla, rated the world's top two Test batsmen, was halted by a beautiful inswinger from James Pattinson, trapping the latter lbw. A review failed to bring relief.
Grittily, the normally hard-hitting De Villiers went into match-saving, or honour-saving, mode. He racked up only 11 scoring shots off 100 balls, amassing 16 by close of play. Runs hardly matter. Wickets do.
Australia have 98 overs to capture the last six needed to clinch the series 2-1. Or, of course, the Proteas need 440.
Warner said Australia should bowl "stump-to-stump" today, exploiting the reverse swing that they had extracted in South Africa's first innings and again today. If they do, the series is theirs.Reuse content