South Africa eye series clean sweep
Tuesday 06 January 2009
South Africa coach Mickey Arthur has refused to rule out the possibility of his team launching a late bid to win the third Test and clinch a series clean sweep against Australia.
Having been set 376 to win from a minimum of 116 overs, the Proteas closed day four on 62 for one.
The tourists require a further 314 to win with nine wickets remaining, although that is effectively eight unless captain Graeme Smith changes his mind and opts to bat despite injuries to his left hand and elbow.
It is a tall order for South Africa - although they did successfully chase down 414 to win the first Test in Perth - but Arthur says they will have a go if they can set a good foundation early on the final day.
"If we can get ourselves to tea then (we'll) have a look. If we are unscathed at tea time then we'll be ready to launch a proper assault," Arthur said.
"There is 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 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 tomorrow and that's got to be good," he said.
"That's indicative of how the Test series has gone.
"We're still going to play it hour by hour and we're only realistically (going to) be able to answer (whether we can win) at tea time tomorrow.
"I'd hate to plan and strategise that tomorrow morning.
"We're first thinking of saving the Test before we can think of winning it."
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.
"I'm not taking the possibility of Smith batting totally out of the equation but it is very, very and highly, highly unlikely."
Mike Hussey has called for Australia to pull together as a team to salvage some pride from what has been a disappointing series.
"It's going to take all of us, like it did in the first innings," Hussey said.
"I know Peter Siddle got the rewards (in the first innings) and got the five wickets but it was a collective effort and I think 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 hopefully a few tricks from the pitch would be nice as well to get us a couple of wickets."
If South Africa win they will take over from Australia at the top of the ICC rankings.
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