Australia in SA

Proteas have mountain to climb

2014-02-14 18:43
David Warner and Alex Doolan (Gallo Images)

Pretoria - David Warner has hit a flamboyant century and shared a double century partnership with Alex Doolan as Australia tightened their stranglehold on the third day of the first Test against South Africa at SuperSport Park on Friday.

SA v Oz - Day 3 as it happened

Warner hit 115 and debutant Doolan made 89 as Australia reached 288 for three in their second innings at close of play, an overall lead of 479.

The pair built on the destructive bowling of Mitchell Johnson, who continued his devastating form of the recent Ashes series against England -- and his superb opening spell on the second day -- and finished with seven for 68 as South Africa were bowled out for 206 in reply to Australia's 397.

AB de Villiers made a sparkling 91 for South Africa before he was ninth man out.

"We're in deep trouble," admitted De Villiers. "There's only one team playing cricket in this Test match and it's not us.

"Giving up does not exist in our team culture but we're going to need more than just a big fight tomorrow and on day five."

The left-handed Warner was dropped three times and survived a close leg before wicket decision and a run out chance, but played some thrilling attacking strokes as he and Doolan added 205 for the second wicket after Chris Rogers was bowled by Dale Steyn in the second over of the Australian innings.

Warner said he had learnt from the way De Villiers played on a pitch where some cracks are opening up. "AB showed intent and that was the way forward."

Warner said Australia remembered how South Africa fought back to earn a draw from a similarly difficult position in Adelaide last season, then went on to win the series.

But he felt the conditions in Centurion were more in Australia's favour.

"If we bowl the way that we have over this summer and the way we started in the first innings here we are probably on top," he said.

Both Warner and De Villiers agreed that Johnson's bowling was a key factor.

"With his pace and his accuracy at the moment he's on top of his game and he's going to be hard to stop," said Warner.

- 'You can't show weakness' -

De Villiers gave an insight into how he countered Johnson. "I watched the ball, tried to move quite early and trusted my instincts," he said.

"If you are a bit lackadaisical you are going to get hurt. You can't show weakness. Most of the time you get yourself out. He doesn't really bowl you that peach of a delivery."

De Villiers said countering the new ball would be crucial when South Africa batted again.

"Once you get through the new ball, which we couldn't do in the first innings, it gets a lot easier. I felt quite comfortable from about over 35 onwards."

The way Warner reached his century epitomised the way he batted.

After going to tea on 93 he hit the first ball he faced after the interval from Morkel for four, then was struck on his pads in front of his stumps by the next ball.

Morkel appealed passionately, umpire Aleem Dar gave him not out and South Africa sought a review, which showed the ball was pitching marginally outside leg stump.

Warner powered Morkel's third delivery through the covers to notch his hundred off 118 balls with 13 fours and two sixes.

He was then kept relatively quiet and did not add to his boundary tally in the next 33 balls before edging left-arm spinner Robin Peterson to Smith at slip.

Doolan was more circumspect, particularly at the start of his innings, but hit 12 fours and a six in a 154-ball innings before flashing at a quicker delivery from part-time off-spinner JP Duminy to be caught behind.

De Villiers was the only batsman to play Johnson with any comfort and he slammed the big left-arm fast bowler through the covers for four as he sought quick runs before the innings ended.

But he lofted the next ball to mid-off to end a 148-ball innings which included ten fours and two sixes.

Read more on:    proteas  |  ozinsa  |  david warner  |  cricket
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