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Test round-up: Steyn and Philander close in on series win for South Africa


South Africa were on the brink of a series-clinching win over Sri Lanka after taking 12 wickets on a one-sided third day of the decisive third Test at Newlands in Cape Town yesterday.

Sri Lanka collapsed from 149 for 2 to 239 all out and, following on, were 138 for 4 at the close, still 203 runs behind. Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn took three first-innings wickets apiece as South Africa seized control.

The second knocks from dangermen Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene were all ended before stumps to leave their side facing a huge task to save the match and the series. Philander had Dilshan caught behind by Mark Boucher for five and Jacques Kallis removed fellow opener Lahiru Thirimanne for 30. Kallis also took two catches to get rid of Sangakkara (34) and Jayawardene (12), with Imran Tahir and Morne Morkel the bowlers. Sri Lanka's hopes rest with Angelo Mathews (28 not out) and Thilan Samaraweera (19 not out).

Steyn put the hosts on the front foot as Sri Lanka lost five first-innings wickets for 70 in the opening session. He had Sangakkara (35) caught by Amla at gully before Sri Lanka could add a run to their overnight score. Samaraweera edged a Philander delivery to Kallis at second slip for 11 and Jayawardene (30) did the same to hand Steyn his second victim. He struck again to have Mathews caught behind before Tahir bowled Tissara Perera for five. Philander helped wrap up the tail by dismissing Rangana Herath and Dhammika Prasad before Morkel ended Lokuge Chandimal's resistance.

Meanwhile, Australia captain Michael Clarke made history at the Sydney Cricket Ground to leave India fighting to avoid defeat in the second Test. India were 114 for 2 in their second innings at stumps on day three, a day dominated by Clarke's unbeaten 329.

After achieving the highest score in the SCG's 100-Test history, Clarke declared at 659 for 4 midway through the second session. Mike Hussey offered his captain terrific support, scoring an unbeaten 150 to supplement Ricky Ponting's 134.

The tourists, after scoring just 191 in their first innings, trail by 354 runs, with Gautam Gambhir undefeated on 68 and Sachin Tendulkar on eight set to resume on what should prove a pivotal day four. Tendulkar, though, narrowly avoided being bowled off an inside edge on seven, while wicketkeeper Brad Haddin should have accepted a thick edge from Gambhir on 66.