South Africa on top in Sydney Test despite Clarkes fight back

January 3rd, 2009 - 6:08 pm ICT by ANI  

Sydney, Jan 3 (ANI): Australian vice captain Michael Clarke rescued his team today by remaining unbeaten on 73 after the top order collapsed on the first day of third Test against South Africa at Sydney.

The Sydney pitch was friendlier, but the Proteas attack was just as hostile and they stuck to their plans until late in the afternoon to keep Australia to 6 for 267.

None of South African bowlers dominated individually, but as a group they maintained the pressure and showed why their team could be the No.1-ranked Test side within four days.

Trailing 2-0 in the three-match series, Australia had slumped to 5-162 after tea at the SCG before NSW teammates Clarke and Brad Haddin began the rescue mission on their home ground, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

They added 75 runs before Dale Steyn (2-71) struck in his first over with the second new ball. Steyn bowled wicketkeeper Haddin for 38 with a stunning outswinger, which clipped off stump.

Clarkes 73 came in five minutes short of four hours and included nine fours. No.8 batsman Mitchell Johnson showed plenty of dash, hitting four fours in his 17 not out.

Clarke was dropped on 12 and 69 and Johnson also had some luck with an edge through the vacant third slip on eight.

Haydens career remained under threat, failing to rediscover his former glory with a patchy innings of 31 before dragging a full-length ball from Steyn onto his stumps at 3-109.

Left-arm spinner Paul Harris removed Mike Hussey caught at slip for 30 in his first over at 4-130, bringing nervous debutant Andrew McDonald to the crease.

McDonald had his helmet knocked off his head by a bouncer from Morne Morkel and looked out of his depth in his 64-minute stay. The redheaded Victorian eventually departed caught behind for 15 off Makhaya Ntini’’s bowling at 5-162.

Australia won the toss in overcast conditions and lost two wickets before lunch.

Simon Katich hit 47 off 52 deliveries and captain Ricky Ponting made a first-ball duck for the second time in the series.

Pontings men are desperate to claim the dead-rubber match to avoid a South African clean sweep. (ANI)

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