Adelaide – Openers Graeme Smith and Alviro Petersen gave South Africa hope of reeling in Australia's mammoth first innings total of 550 by guiding the visitors to 117 without loss at tea on day two of the second Test in Adelaide on Friday.
Resuming on 3-0 after Australia were dismissed shortly before lunch, the pair stood firm for an entire session as Australia's bowlers toiled fruitlessly in rising heat at Adelaide Oval.
South Africa captain Smith was on 57, having survived a genuine stumping chance off the bowling of spinner Nathan Lyon, and Petersen had compiled 47.
With Australia's pacemen failing to make inroads, Lyon was called in to the attack and proved far more troubling on the wicket he helped prepare as a groundsman two years ago.
The 25-year-old off-spinner lured Smith out of his crease and bowled him through bat and pad, but Wade fumbled it behind the stumps to grant the Proteas skipper a life on 46.
Smith duly brought up his half-century by slicing Lyon to backward point for two and appeared well established as the temperature rose above 33 degrees Celsius.
After Smith and Petersen's workmanlike progress, South Africa still trail Australia's first innings total by 433 runs but will hold hope of defying their bowlers further in the final session with the wicket offering few surprises.
The tourists, flayed by Australia's batsmen on the opening day, rattled through the last five wickets for 68 runs, before Petersen and Smith survived a nervous four overs to be 3-0 at lunch.
Paceman Morne Morkel starred with three wickets in the morning session to finish with 5/146, claiming the key wicket of Australia captain Michael Clarke for 230.
However, James Pattinson and Nathan Lyon frustrated the tourists with a feisty last-wicket stand of 46 before the former was out for a quick-fire 42, nicking an edge to Smith, who took his fourth catch at first slip to bring the innings to a close.
Clarke and wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Wade resumed on Friday with the score at 482/5, but were soon on the back foot with Morkel steaming in and bowling a fuller length.
Clarke struck his 40th boundary but added only six runs to his overnight total before being bowled by Morkel, the Australia captain then leaving the ground to a standing ovation.
Peter Siddle flicked a boundary off his pads to raise Australia's total past 500, but the lanky Morkel had Wade caught behind by AB de Villiers for six with a fuller delivery.
Rory Kleinveldt grabbed his first wicket when he had paceman Siddle nick to Smith in the slips, but had a nervous wait as the decision was referred to a lengthy no-ball review.
Morkel celebrated his fifth wicket when Ben Hilfenhaus attempted a hook that ended with a thick edge to Rory Kleinveldt at deep backward square leg.
South Africa's bowling stocks were decimated on Thursday, with paceman Vernon Philander a late withdrawal with a back injury and all-rounder Jacques Kallis suffering a hamstring strain.
Kallis has been ruled out of bowling for the remainder of the test, but was passed fit to bat in a small boost for the tourists.
Leg-spinner Imran Tahir, thrown into the attack with few other options available, continued to struggle on Friday, and finished wicketless after conceding 180 runs. – Reuters