South Africa 303 & 250-8 Australia 270: Boucher keeps win in sight for South Africa

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The Independent Online

At the end of another fraught and contentious day, South Africa lead Australia by 283 runs with two wickets left. Mark Boucher's half-century and partnership of 56 with Andre Nell has changed the mood of the match.

Having secured a first-innings lead of 33, the South Africans batted fitfully. A B de Villiers ignored a trimmer, Boeta Dippenaar sliced a drive and Herschelle Gibbs spoiled a fluent innings by directing a full toss to mid-on. Later Shaun Pollock pulled optimistically and Nicky Boje hit a full toss to square leg.

Misfortune also dogged the hosts, however. Earlier, Brett Lee had stood his ground as a slip catch was clearly taken. Alas, the umpires refused to intervene. Worse followed as Ashwell Prince was taken at leg slip off his pad and Jacques Kallis' stoical innings was ended by a marginal leg before verdict. The South Africans are considering protesting to the International Cricket Council about the umpiring.

After the loss of Kallis, their acting captain, South Africa were sustained by a typically feisty innings from Boucher. Welcomed with a blast from Shane Warne, the plucky wicketkeeper pulled and drove defiantly to finish on 55 not out. He had his revenge on Warne, driving and pulling as the spinner dropped short. Nel provided support to raise hopes of a home victory.

Australia's Stuart Clark moved the ball around and might have taken a hatful. Although he overpitched in his first spell, Lee showed pace and heart. Michael Kasprowicz was off the field with a sore back and Warne lacked his usual venom.

Australia batted patchily. Matthew Hayden fell foul of his off-drive and Damien Martyn pulled extravagantly. Adam Gilchrist hooked to deep square leg and Andrew Symonds fell out of position. Mike Hussey constructed a fine innings.

Warne was his canny self and Lee confirmed that he can strike the ball cleanly to make 64, butEngland will have been encouraged by Australia's troubles against pace on a firm surface.

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