Ponting carries tourists' hopes into decisive day

South Africa 266 & 339 Australia 296 & 142-3
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The Independent Online

Half-centuries from Usman Khawaja and Ricky Ponting, who remains unbeaten, combined with a six-wicket haul by impressive debutant Pat Cummins, gave Australia hope of winning the second Test against South Africa after an enthralling fourth day in Johannesburg.

Khawaja (65) and former captain Ponting (54 not out) helped the tourists close on 142 for 3 in pursuit of 310. Australia are attempting the highest successful run chase at the New Wanderers stadium, which would level the two-match series 1-1. Earlier, 18-year-old Cummins claimed figures for 6 for 79.

The hosts started on 229 for 3 – a lead of 199. However, Australia tore into the home side early on and took four wickets for the addition of just 37 runs to haul themselves back into the contest. A B de Villiers was caught by Michael Clarke at second slip off Cummins. Five overs later Hamish Amla reached his 14th Test century with a boundary off Peter Siddle, but three balls after that Ashwell Prince was run out by Ponting. That left the home side on 249 for 5, and worse was to follow as Amla was sent back for 105 when he edged a Mitchell Johnson delivery through to Brad Haddin.

Mark Boucher became the seventh Proteas wicket to fall when Nathan Lyon, with his second delivery of the day, induced a thin edge through to Shane Watson at first slip. At that stage South Africa's overall lead had only increased to 236 and Australia must have sensed a chance to keep their victory target below 250.

However, lower-order duo Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn joined forces to put the Proteas back in control with an invaluable stand of 48. The momentum then swung back Australia's way in a stunning start to the afternoon as Cummins made breakthroughs with the first two balls after lunch.

Facing a massive target for victory, Australia would have been desperate for a good start to their chase but suffered a setback when, off the second ball, Watson shouldered arms to a Philander delivery and was bowled. Philander then made another breakthrough to snare Phil Hughes for 11, leaving Australia back in serious trouble on 19 for 2. However, Ponting and Khawaja helped turn the tide with a stand of 122 for the third wicket.