Controversy aside, Proteas in cruise control

2018-03-24 17:21
Aiden Markram (Gallo)

Cape Town - Just when you thought the series between South Africa and Australia couldn't get any more controversial, Cameron Bancroft found himself at the centre of a potential ball tampering incident. 

It is likely to become a story bigger than both the David Warner v Quinton de Kock showdown in Durban and the Kagiso Rabada and Steve Smith shoulder bump in Port Elizabeth. 

Day three of the third Test also saw police officers and fans clash as Warner was the victim of more spectator abuse. 

As has been the case throughout the series, the cricket didn't get the attention it deserved with the focus instead on the side-shows. 

The reality is that South Africa have taken more significant strides towards winning this Test match and taking a 2-1 series lead into the final Test in Johannesburg. 

When bad light stopped play on day three, the hosts were 238/5 and 294 runs ahead of their visitors. 

Having taken the last Australian wicket after just 13 minutes in the opening session, South Africa began their second innings with a handy lead of 56. 

Dean Elgar (14) could not repeat his first-innings heroics, but Aiden Markram delivered with a classy 84 that set his side up to build a big lead. 

Markram was dropped twice - once on 0 and again on 59 - but his shot-making, and particularly his off-drives, oozed class. 

For the second time in the match Hashim Amla was out for 31 when he hit a full delivery from Pat Cummins (2/47) straight to cover. 

Amla, once again, had looked set but couldn't provide the match-winning innings we have seen so many times before. 

When Markram clipped Mitchell Starc (1/48) to mid-on, South Africa were 151/3 and Australia had just a sniff. 

AB de Villiers (51*) and Faf du Plessis (20) then got together and combined for a 45-run stand for the fourth wicket that had threatened to take the game away from the Aussies.

Du Plessis, though, continued his poor run of form when he was trapped LBW by Nathan Lyon. 

Temba Bavuma then came to the crease and would have been desperate to get some runs behind him in his first Test back from injury, but he came and went for 5 when he was snapped up at slip after edging Josh Hazlewood. 

Fortunately for the hosts, De Villiers was flying. 

He brought up his 44th Test fifty, and third of the series to go with his century in Port Elizabeth, as the Protesa stretched their lead. 

De Villiers found an able partner in Quinton de Kock (29*), who was his usual fluent self as he got the scoreboard moving. 

With the floodlights on and with Newlands covered by heavy clouds, play was called off for the day.

The Aussies now have a mammoth task ahead of them if they are to pull this Test out of the fire.


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