Australia salvaged a consolation win against South Africa after dismissing the tourists for 272 on the fifth day to clinch a 103-run victory in the third Test.
Australia salvaged a consolation win against South Africa after dismissing the tourists with only 10 balls remaining on the final day to clinch a 103-run victory in the third Test at the SCG.
Chasing an unlikely 376 to win, the tourists seemed set for a heavy defeat until a battling 50-run ninth-wicket stand between Dale Steyn and Makhaya Ntini lifted the side.
Steyn's dismissal then saw the arrival of injured captain Graeme Smith at the crease to add another dramatic turn to the match.
The courageous Smith, who came in at 11 with a broken left hand and troublesome elbow, and Ntini (28) held Australia up for 29 minutes and appeared likely to escape with a draw against the odds.
But Mitchell Johnson bowled Smith at 5.34pm local time as the Proteas were finally dismissed for 272.
South Africa, who had already won the series, entered the final day needing a further 314 runs to pull off an improbable win – and a series clean sweep – having progressed to 62 for one at stumps on day four.
But any hope of a victory disappeared when the tourists lost Neil McKenzie (27), Jacques Kallis (four) and Hashim Amla (59) in the opening session.
Local favourite Doug Bollinger gave the hosts the perfect start to the morning session removing McKenzie – caught in the gully by Michael Hussey – in just the fifth over of the day.
Fellow debutant Andrew McDonald was next to strike removing the dangerous Kallis with a spectacular catch off his own bowling.
Having drawn the leading edge of Kallis' bat McDonald leapt across the pitch to take the ball low down prompting umpire Billy Bowden to raise his finger – but McDonald was not certain he had claimed the catch fairly.
Bowden enlisted the help of the third umpire Rod Tucker who after viewing numerous replays confirmed Kallis' demise.
And the hosts took another significant step towards victory shortly after drinks when Nathan Hauritz had the in-form Amla caught by Simon Katich at short leg off a delivery that jumped sharply out of the footmarks.
AB de Villiers and JP Duminy fought hard to steady South Africa's innings after lunch before Johnson trapped the latter lbw for 16 with a ball that kept low from just short of a length.
The dismissal brought Mark Boucher to the crease but the first-innings hero could add only four runs before he fell to Peter Siddle for the second time in the match.
Boucher was rapped on the pads by a full toss in front of his stumps leaving umpire Asoka de Silva an easy decision.
De Villiers offered some resistance with a half-century but walked for 56 shortly before tea when he played a Siddle thunderbolt on to his stumps.
That left the Proteas on 190 for seven and Paul Harris failed to ease their troubles when he was trapped lbw by Siddle for six.
The home side appeared to be coasting to a comfortable victory, but Steyn and Ntini had other ideas, ensuring a tremendous series finished on an appropriately dramatic note.
The pair put on 50 runs for the ninth wicket as South Africa pushed for the draw before McDonald trapped Steyn lbw for 28.
That opened the way for Smith to make his entry with 7.2 overs left to a standing ovation from the SCG crowd.
In a tense final hour, Ntini was dropped twice on 16 by McDonald and Matthew Hayden but held on to play the innings of his life with an unbeaten 28.
Smith was also defiant in his time at the crease before Johnson eventually bowled the Proteas skipper for three to seal an entertaining win.
South Africa took the series 2-1 but Australia remain top of the International Cricket Council's Test rankings.
Siddle, with match figures of eight for 113, was named man of the match with Smith awarded the man-of-the-series trophy.
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