Australia lose three, behind De Villiers-inspired South Africa

Alicia Farmer
March 11, 2018

Amla was out for 56, opener Dean Elgar followed next over for 57, and allrounder Mitchell Marsh picked up two wickets as Australia's bowlers went on a run of four wickets for 28 runs.

Earlier in the morning, de Villiers produced a batting masterclass to give the hosts a healthy cushion in the first innings. "He's an incredible player", said Australian all-rounder Mitchell Marsh.

But the resistance of Amla and Elgar in a wicket-less session was exactly what the situation called for - and in sharp resistance to the collapse that Australia suffered when confronted with Kagiso Rabada's reverse-swing masterclass on day one.

A grinning Amla, who also successfully overturned an lbw decision when he had 40 to his name, told SuperSport: "To be honest, I thought I got an inside edge on it, but then when I looked at the big screen and saw there was no inside edge, I thought ok, maybe it was out".

De Villiers was a class above his teammates and the tourists' disciplined bowling attack, counter-attacking when the game was in the balance to drag his side towards first-innings ascendancy.

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De Villiers made 126 not out before South Africa were all out for 382 shortly before the scheduled lunch break on the third day at St George´s Park in Port Elizabeth.

It was the kind of intriguing battle out in the middle that observers hoped for from this four-test contest before it was given a bitter taste that still lingers by an off-field confrontation between Australia's David Warner and South Africa's Quinton de Kock in the first test. Marsh trapped South Africa captain Faf du Plessis and Theunis de Bruyn lbw in successive overs. We felt close to wickets but they stuck in there. The bat turned in Bancroft's hands and his attempted forward defence took the ball, with back spin on it, to the stumps and dislodged one bail.

Rabada was the chief destroyer in the Australia first innings with 5-96, including a burst of 5-13 off 18 balls.

His further participation in the series is in doubt though after he was charged with a Level Two offence by the International Cricket Council. That would see South Africa's best fast bowler miss the last two tests of the series. He is claiming the contact with Smith was unintentional.

It was the second outstanding innings in the series by De Villiers, who made 71 not out in the first innings of the first Test in Durban before being run out for nought in the second innings as South Africa slipped to a 118-run defeat.

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