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Thursday, Dec 18th

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Australia take the plaudits as riveting first test ends in stalemate

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de_villiers_1The 5th and final day of the 1st test between the World No.1 side South Africa and hosts Australia saw some pulsating action at the end of which the Proteas held out for a draw after the Aussie declaration put them in a spot of bother late on the final day. Australia extended their 37 run over night lead to a healthy 115 runs in the first hour of the day thanks to some enterprising strokeplay from skipper Michael Clarke who made a momentous 259* and Mike Hussey, who also made a quick century before being dismissed. The South Africans wobbled a bit at the start, losing Alviro Peterson in the second over of their innings but steadied the ship thereafter well enough to earn themselves a draw.

Resuming the day on 487/4, 37 runs in the lead, the Aussie overnight pair wasted no time in getting a move on straight from the start. Clarke started off in typical fashion cutting and driving for boundaries to get his innings started while Hussey played himself in for the first couple of overs before opening his shoulders in search of some quick runs. Although the boundaries were not available at a canter, the pair kept the scoreboard ticking over by picking up the ones and twos and exploiting the gaps in the field created by it being spread out. Hussey fell 10 overs before drinks exactly for 100 off just 129 balls, via a sharp catch by substitute Faf du Plessis off the bowling of Morne Morkel. Clarke though moved on to his 250 soon after and added a further 38 runs with Matthew Wade before declaring at drinks, having added 78 runs in 17 overs in the morning.

The South African reply began shakily as Alviro Peterson(5) fell caught behind to James Pattinson in the second over. The experienced pair of Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla though soon got together and repelled the Aussie quest for victory till Lunch on Day 5 with South Africa reaching 31/1, with Smith looking fluent on 17.

Hashim Amla began solidly in the afternoon session with a couple of crunching shots through the off side field and saw off a further 7 overs with his skipper Smith before the latter fell for 23, again to Pattinson, caught smartly in the gully by Rob Quiney. With score on 55/2, and South Africans in a tight spot playing with a batsmen light owing JP Duminy's freak injury, the ever dependable pair of Jacques Kallis and Hashim Amla continued to fight for the Proteas. The established pair went about things in sedate fashion to start off with before launching into Nathan Lyon upon his introduction. Both batsmen hit a six and four each off the off spinner in his first couple of overs to ease the nerves in the Proteas' camp. The Joy was short-lived though as Amla(38) fell to an uncharacteristically loose shot off Peter Siddle, caught in the covers by Hussey, who pounced on the uppish drive. The South African odi skipper AB de Villiers then strode out to the middle and played out another 7 odd overs before tea to take South Africa to a safe spot. At 114/3 at Tea, things seemed to be heading for a tame draw.

The inevitable was made more interesting in the evening session though as South Africa lost Kallis for 49, caught at slip off Nathan Lyon a few overs into the session. Jacques Rudolph though played out a crucial few overs with de Villiers before perishing lbw to Lyon for 11. At 164/5 and JP Duminy out of the series, Vernon Philander walked in at 7 and had to endure a couple of anxious moments at the death before both sides agreed to call it off and end an entertaining test match with South Africa on 166/5 in their second innings, 51 runs ahead of Australia.

Although the test ended in a draw, both sides had plenty of positives to take home, especially on the batting front as most batsmen got decent scores under their belt on a flat Gabba wicket. Michael Clarke was without doubt the stand out performer of the test with his stupendous 259* under pressure that helped his team not only wriggle out of a tight spot but turn the tables on the Proteas' late in the test match. There wasn't to be a result though as the whole of the second day's play was washed out due to thunderstorms.

Both sides do battle yet again in the second test in Adelaide starting in a week's time on 22nd November.

Mini Scorecard

South Africa 1st innings 450 all out

Australia 1st innings 565/5 (138 overs, 4.09 rpo)
M Clarke 259*(398) M Morkel 3/127
E Cowan 136(257) D Steyn 1/129

South Africa 2nd innings 166/5 (68 overs, 2.44 rpo)
J Kallis 49(91) N Lyon 2/41
H Amla 38(82) J Pattinson 2/58

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