Harris wins it for Aussies at dusk

Australia

Australia recorded a tense and deserved series win against South Africa in Cape Town on Wednesday, though the Proteas pushed the visitors to within 4.3 overs of a draw, before Ryan Harris took two quick wickets to end the game.

Australia recorded a tense and deserved series win against South Africa in Cape Town on Wednesday, though the Proteas pushed the visitors to within 4.3 overs of a draw, before Ryan Harris took two quick wickets to end the game.

Australia needed three wickets in the final session, and as the overs dwindled down, and a controversial decision was overturned, it looked as though the hosts would pull off a miracle for their exiting captain.

But Harris, himself on his last legs in the Test arena as he heads of for knee surgery, got rid of first Dale Steyn and then Morne Morkel in one over, leaving Vernon Philander stranded on 51 with 10 minutes to go.

The defeat marked the first time the Proteas had lost a Test series in nearly six years, with the previous time being against the Aussies too, in 2009, and the hosts could just not draw the match for Graeme Smith.

The Proteas had done a valiant job of using up the overs for most of the day, with the morning session seeing the departure of Kyle Abbott, while AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis were unable to survive the afternoon.

De Villiers put in a marathon five-and-a-half hour knock though, scoring 43 runs off 228 balls, while Du Plessis made 47 off 109 deliveries. He fell just 15 minutes before the tea break, trapped LBW to Steve Smith.

The day began with the hosts on 71 for four, eerily close to the 77 for four they were over a year ago in Adelaide, when they batted to save the game. De Villiers was on 16 and Abbott, the night watchman, on one.

Abbott batted superbly in the morning, using up 89 deliveries in total for his seven runs, while De Villiers went along at a strike rate of less than 20, almost unheard of for the free-flowing batsman.

Abbott was eventually out after the drinks break, leaving a James Pattinson delivery and finding his off stump uprooted. He had been in the middle for nearly two hours to record his seven runs.

Du Plessis to join De Villiers, a lot of pressure on him as he was the main reason for the Adelaide draw. By lunch, he sat on 14 off 44 balls, while De Villiers was on 39 off 214 deliveries.

The main talking point in the morning, though, was the condition of the ball, which the Aussies appeared to be helping along by bouncing the ball on the pitch from the outfield. Ironically, given their pre-Test outrage about such a practise, the umpires issued a warning before lunch.

The afternoon was boring and tense at the same time, with Newlands calling for spectators to take advantage of the free entry as Smith's last Test drew to a close. De Villiers was gutted to depart, caught behind off Ryan Harris.

When the evening session began, Philander and JP Duminy were in the middle, with only the fast bowlers to come, though Morkel would not have wanted to be the man to survive the day again, as he had in Adelaide.

Philander was struck on the hand by a James Pattinson beamer, and had to bat through the pain all evening. Once Duminy departed, having made 43 off 99 balls, the big man continued with Steyn, who stuck around for 44 balls for one run.

Things got very sense during the drinks break, when a decision to dismiss Philander was overturned by the third umpire as he deemed his glove had not been in contact with the bat. Clarke was outraged, and Steyn had to be pulled away from the protesting Aussies.

But in the end it was Harris, the man with the heart of a lion and the knees of an old mogul skier, who ended things. The fans were starting to think that a draw was a real option, but he sent both Steyn and Morkel's bails flying.

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