South Africa aim to snatch top spot off Australia

Australia 445 & 257-4 dec. South Africa 327 & 62-1

South Africa entered the final day of the series and the third Test against Australia needing a further 314 runs to pull off an improbable win – but given their heroics in the first Test in Perth, a possible one.

Set an imposing victory target of 376 from a minimum 116 overs, the Proteas were 62 for 1 at stumps on day four. Stand-in captain Neil McKenzie and Hashim Amla resumed the fight for a history-making last-day win – and a series clean sweep – with at least 90 overs to be bowled.

Past run chases at the SCG suggested victory would elude the Proteas on a wearing wicket. Australia's fourth-innings total of 288 for 2 in the 2005-06 season against South Africa is the highest winning total in a Sydney Test.

The tourists' task was made more difficult by the absence of captain Graeme Smith who is nursing a broken finger and was highly unlikely to take any further part in proceedings.

After Australia declared their seconds innings at 257 for 4, Doug Bollinger made the early breakthrough, picking up his first Test wicket after makeshift opener Morne Morkel chipped a catch to Mitchell Johnson at mid-on for a duck. Amla survived a close call on five, edging Peter Siddle past a diving Brad Haddin. Ricky Ponting closed his side's innings after Michael Clarke was caught in the deep going after quick runs. Michael Hussey remained not out on 45.

Australia resumed on day four on 33 without loss with Matthew Hayden and Simon Katich at the crease. Hayden dragged Morkel on to his stumps after working hard in an attempt to build his first substantial score of the summer. He belted seven fours in a 63-ball stay that produced just as much sweat as substance. The 37-year-old was given a rousing send-off by the SCG crowd.

Ponting almost collected a king pair after trying to leave the first ball he faced only for it to catch the inside edge of his bat, narrowly missing the stumps and going to the boundary for four. The Australian skipper's innings then flourished as he raced to a half-century at almost a run a ball. It came as a surprise when he played on to Morkel attempting a cut shot.

There was also plenty of surprise when Katich was given out lbw to Dale Steyn, with only wicketkeeper Mark Boucher seemingly interested in an appeal. Clarke and Hussey then combined for a fourth-wicket partnership of 76 that helped place Australia into the box seat to win for the first time this series and cling on to their world No 1 spot.

South Africa's coach, Mickey Arthur, refused to rule out a victory. "If we can get ourselves to tea then [we will] have a look. If we are unscathed at tea time then we'll be ready to launch a proper assault," he said.

"There's a dressing room full of guys that don't want to give an inch. The guys have given their all and have been absolutely amazing for 14 days and none of us want to end up losing the last Test match. We went through that in England this year where we played fantastically well and went 2-0 up and lost the last Test match in a dead rubber. It took the gloss of our Test victories a little bit so we learnt the hard way there. There will be guys battling really hard to make sure it's either 2-0 or 3-0 and not 2-1."

Arthur admitted that Australia held the upper hand, however, bowling last on a well-worn SCG pitch that is playing the odd trick. "I think all three results are still possible and that's got to be good," he said. Asked if Smith would bat if the game was there to be won or drawn, Arthur admitted: "I doubt Graeme will come out tomorrow but if there is one over or two overs to see out to draw or one or two required to win, I think we're going to need a chain to chain him down in the dressing room."

Hussey had called for Australia to pull together as a team. "It's going to take all of us, like it did in the first innings," Hussey said. "Peter Siddle got the rewards [in the first innings] and got the five wickets but it was a collective effort and all the guys bowled particularly well. It's going to take a good hard grind of all the bowlers bowling well in partnerships, being patient, being disciplined – the things that we always talk about in our meetings – and a few tricks from the pitch would be nice as well to get us a couple of wickets."

If South Africa managed to win they would take over from Australia at the top of the ICC rankings.

Sydney scoreboard

Third Test (Fourth day of five)

Australia won toss

Australia – First Innings 445 (M J Clarke 138, M G Johnson 64)

South Africa – First Innings 327 (M V Boucher 89,

H M Amla 51, P M Siddle 5-59)

Australia – Second Innings (Overnight: 33-0)

M L Hayden b M Morkel 39

S M Katich lbw b Steyn 61

*R T Ponting b M Morkel 53

M E K Hussey not out 45

M J Clarke c Amla b Harris 41

Extras (b8 lb9 nb1) 18

Total (for 4 declared; 67.3 overs) 257

Fall: 1-62 2-134 3-181 4-257

Did not bat: †B J Haddin, A B McDonald, N M Hauritz, M G Johnson, P M Siddle, D E Bollinger.

Bowling: Steyn 13-1-60-1; Ntini 12-1-66-0; M Morkel 12-2-38-2; Kallis 10-5-13-0; Harris 20.3-1-63-1.

South Africa – Second Innings

N D McKenzie not out 25

M Morkel c Johnson b Bollinger 0

H M Amla not out 30

Extras (lb5 w2) 7

Total (for 1; 26 overs) 62

Fall: 1-2

To bat: *G C Smith, J H Kallis, A B de Villiers, J P Duminy, †M V Boucher, D W Steyn, P L Harris, M Ntini.

Bowling: Siddle 6-1-16-0; Bollinger 4-1-11-1; Johnson 5-0-14-0; McDonald 5-3-8-0; Hauritz 5-2-8-0; Clarke 1-1-0-0.

Umpires: B F Bowden (NZ) and E A R de Silva (S Lanka).

News
In 2006, Pluto was reclassified as a 'dwarf planet'
scienceBut will it be reinstated?
News
Jennifer Lawrence at the Vanity Fair Academy Awards party in February 2014
people12 undisclosed female victims are seeking $100m in damages
Arts and Entertainment
Adam Levine plays a butcher who obsessively stalks a woman in Maroon 5's 'Animals' music video
music'Animals' video 'promotes sexual violence against women'
News
people Biographer says cinema’s enduring sex symbol led a secret troubled life
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
voicesI like surprises - that's why I'm bringing them back to politics, writes Nigel Farage
News
Bear and hare woodland scene from John Lewis Christmas advert
newsRetailer breaks with tradition, selling real festive fir trees online for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Anthony Horowitz will write the next 007 novel
booksAnthony Horowitz to write new instalment in spy series for 2015
News
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
people
News
people

Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again

Sport
Kicking on: Nathaniel Clyne is relishing the challenge of the Premier League after moving from Crystal Palace
footballSurprises include a first ever call-up for one Southampton star
Voices
4 May 2013: The sun rises over Tower Bridge in London. Temperatures across the UK could be higher than several European holiday destinations by Monday, including parts of Italy and France (Andy Hepburn/PA)
voices
News
The moon observed in visible light, topography and the GRAIL gravity gradients
science

...and it wasn't caused by an asteroid crash, as first thought

News
Researchers say a diet of fatty foods could impede smell abilities
scienceMeasuring the sense may predict a person's lifespan
News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
Extras
indybest
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?