Fifties from Quinton de Kock and Vernon Philander allowed the Proteas to get to 508-7 by lunch on day four.
A breathtaking display of cricket from the Proteas on day three, thanks to centuries from JP Duminy and Dean Elgar, allowed the tourists to stretch their overnight lead to 388 runs. While that might have been enough as it is, De Kock and Philander continued to heap the misery on their opponents.
The highest successful run chase in Test history was West Indies’ 418-7 against Australia in 2003. The Aussies were on the receiving end of the second-best as well, the AB de Villiers-inspired 414-4, here at the Waca, in 2008. It’s going to take something completely unprecedented to prevent the Proteas from winning the first Test here.
Elgar and Duminy’s efforts may have deflated the hosts, but they only have themselves to blame for not continuing to chip away. De Kock was dropped on 1 by Adam Voges in the evening session on Saturday, and a fairly straightforward chance was put down by Josh Hazlewood on the boundary seven overs into the morning session on Sunday, handing Philander a reprieve on 29.
Once the pair crossed the world-record chase line, the pair opened up their shoulders, taking their partnership past 100. De Kock overturned two reviews in that, but it was poor umpiring, rather than good fortune, that allowed De Kock to hang around. First a clip down the leg side to Peter Nevill revealed no edge of the bat, and replays for an lbw decision seven overs later showed he got some bat on it.
De Kock shrugged that off and brought up a half-century, his second of the match. It prompted former England skipper Michael Vaughan to say ‘I think De Kock is the nearest copy of Gilchrist we have ever seen. Unbelievable natural attacking talent.’
De Kock chipped one straight to short cover from there for 64, but Philander then proved his worth as an all-rounder with a fifty of his own.
The Australian commentators, Shane Warne and Mark Nicholas in particular, couldn’t understand why the Proteas hadn’t declared yet as the lead moved past 500. On a pitch still holding up nicely for the batsmen and with one fast bowler short, skipper Faf du Plessis might just ignore those thoughts and continue to bat for a bit longer.
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