Tense final day looms as Smith exits

Australia

South Africa reached 71/4 at stumps on day four of the third Test and the visitors will feel very confident of taking the requisite six wickets in an extended last day of 98 overs needed to win this tense series.

South Africa reached 71/4 at stumps on day four of the third Test and the visitors will feel very confident of taking the requisite six wickets in an extended last day of 98 overs needed to win this tense series.

The timing of Graeme Smith's retirement left much to be desired and his final Test innings was no different as he was again caught early in his innings by Alex Doolan at short-leg off Mitchell Johnson.

Smith had been given a guard of honour by the Australian team as he walked to the crease in pursuit of 511 in just over four sessions but his innings would last only 16 minutes and was symbolic of South Africa's performance in this one-sided match.

So ended the magnificent career of a 34-year old who had captained 107 of his 116 Tests for the Proteas. He made only 45 runs in six innings this series and was given a muted standing ovation by the Newlands faithful.

The wicket of Smith (3) was preceded by that of Alviro Petersen (9) who was LBW to Ryan Harris just ten minutes into the fourth innings. Dean Elgar (0) then had his stumps rearranged by Johnson and South Africa found themselves in a ghastly position at 15/3 at Tea.

Hashim Amla (41) and AB de Villiers (16 not out) then applied themselves in a spirited act of resistance as they put on 53 runs in 31 overs before the ball began to reverse-swing and Amla was trapped by James Pattinson just twenty minutes before the close.

Kyle Abbot (1 not out) was sent in as a nightwatchmen and no further wickets fell before the end of the day.

Earlier, Michael Clarke (0) declared a little later than most pundits expected as he called his batsmen in 80 minutes after lunch on 303 for five, 510 runs ahead of the home side.

Australia were ruthless as they added 276 runs in 58 overs on the fourth day and David Warner (145 off 156 balls) became the first Australian in almost five years to score back-to-back hundreds in a Test.

Post-lunch cameos from Shane Watson (27 off 17) and Steve Smith (36 off 20) effectively batted South Africa out of the game but happened so quickly that Australia gave themselves 139 overs to bowl out the world's number-one side. Abbot (3/61) claimed his first scalps since his seven wickets on debut against Pakistan a year before.

The wicket has continued to play better than expected but Australia's ability to get the ball to reverse swing in the middle overs (30-50) of its lifespan brought about the Proteas' first innings collapse and the Amla breakthrough in the second innings.

The ball is 41 overs old and the first ten overs of the last day will not be easy to negotiate.

AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis (next in to bat) have starred in epic draws in the past and the result of this match and series is by no means a foregone conclusion. Losing the game would be a sad way for Graeme Smith to end his international career and his batsmen will fight hard in an effort to see that it isn't so.

<b>Nick Sadleir at Newlands</b>

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