The Proteas once again showed little discretion with the bat, losing three wickets in their first session of batting in the third Test against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday.
South Africa were 71/3 in their first innings at tea on the fourth day, Australia having declared on 475/4 after rain washed out the entire third day’s play and Saturday morning’s action.
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The Australian attack, having five sessions to take 20 wickets to win the Test and claim a 3-0 sweep of the series, as well as assuring themselves of a place in the World Test Championship final, were bang on target from the outset on Saturday.
It made for a torrid time for the Proteas batsmen, especially opener Dean Elgar. The captain scored 15, but most of those runs were off the edge and he lived a charmed life, notably when he edged Josh Hazlewood to Steven Smith at first slip. Smith was diving forward one-handed, but the similarity to the Marnus Labuschagne/Simon Harmer incident on the first day saw third umpire Richard Kettleborough quite rightly disallow the catch because some part of the ball had touched the ground.
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But Hazlewood dismissed Elgar four overs later when the left-hander got into a tangle against a well-directed lifter on leg-stump, gloving a catch to the wicketkeeper.
Off-spinner Nathan Lyon was introduced in the eighth over and he bowled opener Sarel Erwee for 18 in his sixth over, the left-hander making a terrible error of judgement and shouldering arms to a delivery that went straight on to off-stump.
Excellent use of the short ball again by Australia, this time by captain Pat Cummins, saw the departure of Heinrich Klaasen (2) in the next over, gloving a lifter aimed at his armpit through to the wicketkeeper.
South Africa were staggering on 37/3, but Temba Bavuma and Khaya Zondo quietly went about the business of ensuring they did not give their wickets away.
At the same time they managed to massage the score with the addition of another 34 runs. Bavuma, used to having rescue the team in a crisis, looked especially calm and landed a couple of mighty sixes off the back foot off Lyon as he went to tea on 28 not out.