WTC final within Aussies' grasp despite Sydney draw

The hosts dismissed South Africa for 255 after lunch to enforce the follow on, but came up short in their bid to bowl out the tourists again

By Reuters

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Australia captain Pat Cummins (centre) holds the trophy as he poses with teammates after the third Test against South Africa. — AFP
Australia captain Pat Cummins (centre) holds the trophy as he poses with teammates after the third Test against South Africa. — AFP

Published: Sun 8 Jan 2023, 8:47 PM

South Africa dug deep and denied Australia a 3-0 series sweep with a battling draw in the rain-disrupted third Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday, finally finding some fight on the final day of a miserable tour.

The hosts, who declared on 475-4 on Saturday to try and force a result, dismissed South Africa for 255 in their first innings after lunch to enforce the follow on, but came up short in their bid to bowl out the tourists again.


Sarel Erwee and Temba Bavuma guided the Proteas to stumps on 106 for two, enabling South Africa to take something out of the series after being thoroughly outclassed in the first two matches in Brisbane and Melbourne.

It was the first draw in 47 Tests for South Africa going back to a match against New Zealand in Hamilton in March 2017.


Australia will still take huge confidence out of a dominant home summer in which they also beat West Indies 2-0 before putting South Africa to the sword.

The final Test draw means Australia have yet to mathematically seal a place in the World Test Championship final in London in June ahead of next month's series in India.

With 75.56 percentage points share, Australia are still in the driver's seat in the race for the WTC final. They are comfortably ahead of second-placed India (58.93%) and third-placed Sri Lanka (53.33%) in the points table.

"I think 14 wickets in a day is always hard work, especially as the wicket wasn't breaking up as we would have liked it to," said Australia captain Pat Cummins. "I still came to the ground today full of confidence, but it wasn't to be."

Tailenders Simon Harmer (47) and Keshav Maharaj (53) played a big part too under sunny skies on Sunday, with a partnership of 85 for the eighth wicket, which extended South Africa's first innings well into the afternoon.

Paceman Josh Hazlewood (4-48) removed them both in a dazzling post-lunch spell and Nathan Lyon sent back Kagiso Rabada with a diving catch from his own bowling to bring an end to the innings and give Australia a first innings lead of 220.

Dean Elgar, the first captain to lead South Africa to defeat in Australia since Graeme Smith in 2005-06, opened the second innings but was soon dismissed to continue his terrible run of form.

Edging behind to fall to his Australian counterpart Cummins for the fourth time in the series, he scored 10 runs and took his series tally to a paltry 56 from six innings at an average of 9.33.

After that breakthrough, Cummins and Hazlewood kept pounding in, but spinners Lyon and Ashton Agar at the other end had little to work with from a pitch that had not had enough traffic to deteriorate as much as they would have liked.

Lyon thought he had dismissed Heinrich Klaasen, caught by Steve Smith in the slips for 28, but for the third time in the match the third umpire ruled the ball had grazed the grass between the fielder's fingers.

Hazlewood clean-bowled Klaasen for 35 a couple of overs later with a peach of a delivery, but opener Erwee, who scored 42 not out, and Bavuma, unbeaten on 17, successfully fought the rearguard action until Cummins conceded the draw.

Brief scores

Australia first innings 475-4 declared. South Africa first innings 255 all out (Keshav Maharaj 53, Simon Harmer 47, Khaya Zondo 39, Temba Bavuma 35; Josh Hazlewood 4-48, Pat Cummins 3-60, Nathan Lyon 2-88). South Africa second innings 106-2 (Sarel Erwee 42 not out, Heinrich Klaasen 35, Temba Bavuma 17 not out; Josh Hazlewood 1-9, Pat Cummins 1-16)

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