A Quinton de Kock century and a double Kyle Abbott strike has left Australia trailing the Proteas by 120 runs in Hobart.
The Proteas have their sixth-wicket partnership between De Kock and Temba Bavuma to thank for cementing their dominance on this match, as their 144-run stand – an SA record in Australia – took their lead over the Aussies comfortably past 200.
After a washed-out day two, the pair got back to work on day three on 171-5 in Hobart, with the morning providing clear skies and cool conditions, despite frequent, light showers passing over the Bellerive Oval throughout the day.
Bavuma would be the first to get his fifty, continuing his good work in Perth, but De Kock provided most of the run-scoring from there, with over 65% of his runs coming in boundaries.
Apart from a missed stumping from Peter Nevill when De Kock was on 72, the pair offered nothing to the hosts, who were quickly running out of ideas. De Kock then raced to his second Test century off just 139 balls, showcasing once more what a special talent he is. His previous five Test knocks read 82, 50, 84, 64, 104. He scored 122 and 99 in the two warm-up matches. He is in incredible form and he makes it look effortless.
When he lost his wicket for 104, clean bowled by Josh Hazlewood, the batting screws came undone. Bavuma fell for an excellent, compact 74 just after the lunch break, and Hazlewood finished with figures of 6-89 as the last five wickets fell for just 50 runs, with Vernon Philander contributing 32 of those.
That was enough to carry the tourists to 326, and a daunting lead of 241. It was going to take a special third-innings effort from the Australian top order to give the Proteas something to chase down.
That almost immediately became even tougher. For the second time in the match, an Australian opener fell in the fourth ball of the innings. Joe Burns, perhaps unfortunately, feathered one down the leg side. It took a review from Abbott to reveal the edge, for Burns to walk for a duck.
David Warner and Usman Khawaja continued to play their naturally attacking games, and found the boundary on regular occasions. A dangerous partnership looked on the cards, but Philander and Abbott put in tireless efforts with the new ball, and eventually something gave.
It was an unfortunate dismissal once more, and once again it went the way of Abbott, as he was rewarded for constantly cramping Warner up. The ball pitched short of a length, and it went on to hit Warner’s elbow before crashing on to the stumps, ending the 79-run stand for Warner to go for 45.
Khawaja followed up his 97 at the Waca with another well-played fifty as he grafted another useful partnership, this time with skipper Steve Smith. The pair added another 42 runs before bad light brought an end to proceedings. The pair have it all to do to keep their side in the match on Tuesday, provided the weather holds up.
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