JOHANNESBURG – South Africa relentlessly increased its advantage over Australia on the third afternoon of the fourth and final Sunfoil Test, going to tea on 58/1 a lead of 325 runs.
Proteas captain Faf du Plessis understandably chose not to enforce the follow-on despite his side holding a first innings lead of 267 after bowling the Australians out for 221, 20 minutes after lunch.
The injury to Morne Morkel, who picked up a side-strain in the first session, means Du Plessis need to show some caution with his three pronged pace attack, and it would come as no surprise if South Africa bat through to stumps Sunday, to allow Morkel to get more treatment overnight.
Aiden Markram’s was the only South African wicket to fall before tea when he was caught at second slip after pushing had at a ball that left him off the surface from the effervescent Pat Cummins. Markram backed up his magnificent first innings 152, with a neat 37, during which he went passed the 1000 run mark in Test cricket in just his 18thinnings.
He is the second fastest South African player, behind only Graeme Smith who reached the landmark in 17 innings, though Markram has played two fewer Tests than the former South African captain in reaching the figure.
Markram shared an opening stand of 54 with Dean Elgar, who went to tea not out on 16. Elgar was accompanied by Hashim Amla, who is on 4.
Australia’s captain Tim Paine scored a gutsy 62, ignoring a hairline fracture of his right thumb, to help the tourists go passed 200. It represented a very good recovery after they’d slipped to 96/6 on Saturday evening.
Paine’s partnership of 99 for the seventh wicket with Pat Cummins, who made a maiden Test half-century, before being dismissed just before lunch, was the backbone of the Australian innings, but having lost wickets in clumps on Saturday, there were never going to get close to South Africa’s monumental first innings total of 488.
Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada and Keshav Maharaj all claimed three wickets apiece.