South Africa 238-6 Australia : Prince defies onslaught as South Africa succumb to temptation

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The Independent Online

A fighting innings from Ashwell Prince sustained South African hopes in the face of opponents who threw everything at them in the morning before suffering the sort of lapse that often befalls teams towards the end of a tightly packed Test series. Fresh, Australia might have been able to press home their advantage. Weary, they lost their length and became fractious.

Prince counts amongst the most tenacious of cricketers. Although he has a limited range of strokes he knows his game - and fights. Here he drove and cut efficiently and his innings spoke of an unyielding character.

Until Prince entrenched himself, the batsmen had a hard time of it. Brett Lee bowled a mean length, while Stuart Clark's pace continues to surprise batsmen.

Neither opener looked comfortable. Graeme Smith was nursing a sore finger and neither A B de Villiers nor Herschelle Gibbs displayed the defensive technique once regarded as essential in those seeking to take the shine off the ball. De Villiers relies on spirit and an off-drive that also counts amongst his weaknesses. After struggling for an hour he accepted the apple of temptation and drove loosely to cover.

Gibbs was bowled as he lifted his bat towards the skies. His error was an abnegation of responsibility. Not until Jacques Kallis and Boeta Dippenaar came together were the visiting leather-flingers presented with opponents with the wherewithal to wear them down. Both seemed capable of a long occupation. It did not work out that way, however, and South Africa subsided to 106 for 4.

Prince and Jacques Rudolph responded to the looming crisis with aplomb. By now the bowling had lost its sting. Shane Warne dropped short regularly and sent down numerous googlies in an attempt to disturb the batsmen. Eventually Rudolph edged to Matthew Hayden at slip for the spinner's only wicket.

Mark Boucher offered Prince staunch support until he was unkindly dispatched as evening fell upon the City of Gold. Prince remained unbeaten on 79.