Sydney : South Africa batters finally showed some fight at the Sydney Cricket Ground to force a tame draw against Australia on the last day of the third and final Test of the series on Sunday.
Though Australia’s imposing bowling attack failed to eke out a win from a rain-affected match, victories in Brisbane and Melbourne meant the Pat Cummins-led side were able to get a 2-0 series triumph and put themselves in pole position for a spot in the final of the World Test Championship (WTC).
Resuming from 149/6 on day five, Marco Jansen and Simon Harmer held fort for the first hour until Travis Head’s part-time bowling took the former out. Harmer then joined forces with Keshav Maharaj for an essential 85-run partnership.
With the likely outcome of the game moving towards a draw, Josh Hazlewood stepped in to take out both Harmer and Maharaj to put Australia within one wicket of the follow-on.
Nathan Lyon finally brought the Proteas innings to a close with dismissal of Kagiso Rabada as Australia enforced the follow-on over South Africa. South African skipper Dean Elgar had some close shaves, but his tour came to a brutal end after he gloved behind off Pat Cummins.
In the tour, Elgar managed just 56 runs at an average of 9.33. Australia was given some hope of a win when Steve Smith caught Heinrich Klaasen at first slip but after an umpire review, the South African was given another chance as the ball hit the ground.
Eventually, Hazlewood took the wicket of Klaasen, before Sarel Erwee and Temba Bavuma hanged around to force a draw for South Africa. Australia will now prepare for a massive four-match tour of India starting from February 9.
It meant Australia must wait until their upcoming series against India away from home to book their place in the World Test Championship final, with the current leaders missing the chance to cement their spot.
Their point-percentage in the WTC table has dropped to 75.56% following the Sydney Test. India’s chances of reaching a second consecutive final are boosted as Rohit Sharma’s side remains in second place on the standings with a 58.93 point-percentage, while Sri Lanka are also in the mix in third with 53.33%.
Just like Australia, South Africa too dropped valuable percentage points with the Proteas (48.72%) remaining in fourth and their hopes of reaching the final resting on their upcoming series at home against the West Indies in March.
South Africa’s chances will also be dependent on other teams, with victories in both those Tests against the Caribbean side required and a host of other results going their way the only hope for Dean Elgar’s side following a disappointing tour of Australia.
Brief Scores: South Africa 255 and 106/2 (Sarel Erwee 42 not out, Temba Bavuma 17 not out, Josh Hazlewood 1/9) drew with Australia 475/4 declared