Australia well on top despite De Villiers century

Published: Sunday, March 1, 2009, 11:27 [IST]
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Johannesburg: Australia built a 297-run lead in their second innings when bad light and rain stopped play on day three of the first Test against South Africa at Wanderers Stadium on Saturday.

The tourists reached 51 for one before the players left the field in the final session, staying off for 45 minutes until the umpires drew stumps 31 overs early.

Debutant opener Phillip Hughes was 36 not out with Australia captain Ricky Ponting unbeaten on one.

Pace bowler Morne Morkel struck early to have Simon Katich caught behind for 10 in the 12th over of the innings, breaking a 38-run opening stand.

Earlier, AB de Villiers had put up a fight for South Africa but ran out of partners, finishing unbeaten on 104 for his eighth Test century as the Proteas were dismissed for 220 in their first innings midway through the second session.

De Villiers insisted they would not settle for a draw despite finding themselves in a difficult position.

"We?re still pretty positive. If it keeps raining, so be it, but neither team can control that. We just want to go out there and play the best cricket we can," he said.

"We know we haven?t been at our best over the last few days but the bowlers are pretty hungry to pick up some wickets and improve on that first innings performance and so are the batters."

Dale Steyn made 17 in a 52-run stand for the ninth wicket with De Villiers, who had been put down by wicketkeeper Brad Haddin on 64, either side of lunch but Steyn edged Andrew McDonald to Marcus North at first slip to end the partnership.

And Makhaya Ntini stuck around for 10 minutes, just long enough for De Villiers to reach his hundred, before being removed by Mitchell Johnson to wrap up the innings.

Johnson returned superb figures of 4-25 to lead the attack while fellow speedster Peter Siddle took 3-76.

Siddle delivered a handful of bouncers to Steyn that got both players and the crowd riled, but he said he wasn?t worried about facing his fast bowling counterpart if he bats again.

"It?s a part of Test cricket and it?s going to happen to me. There are plenty more times I?m going to get bounced out there so I don?t think I have to worry about just him," said Siddle.

Soon after the start, Siddle had opener Neil McKenzie trapped leg-before after South Africa resumed their first innings at 85 for three.

McKenzie, who made 36, referred Steve Bucknor?s decision to the third umpire but was given out.

The drama heightened just two overs later when the camera feed to the third umpire failed before Australia called a referral.

The tourists were confident JP Duminy clipped a Siddle delivery to Haddin, but Bucknor disagreed.

The referral was inconclusive with third umpire Asad Rauf?s single-camera feed unavailable.

Duminy, dropped by Ponting on 13, failed to take advantage of his chances and was caught behind off Johnson for 17.

And three balls later Mark Boucher got the thinnest of edges to Haddin off Johnson and Australia wrapped up the innings before lunch.

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