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Australia pile on more runs before rain washes out play at Newlands

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Australian captain Michael Clarke completed his 27th Test match century – to go with the same number of half-centuries for an excellent conversion rate – and then went on to consolidate Australia’s strong position on the second day of the third Sunfoil Test match against South Africa at Sahara Park Newlands on Sunday.

When rain washed out the final three hours’ play Clarke had advanced his individual score to 161 (301 balls, 17 fours) but more importantly had taken the Australian team total to within six runs of the 500-run mark.

He and Steve Smith (84 off 155 balls, 9 fours and 3 sixes) made their fourth-wicket stand worth 184 in 50 overs before Smith was dismissed, bowled by Dean Elgar. The pair had batted with minimal trouble and looked certain to go past the ground record fourth-wicket stand of 197 that has stood behind the name of two England legends, Wally Hammond and Les Ames, since the 1938/39 season until Smith chopped the left-arm spinner on to his stumps.

The only real moment of tension in the resumed partnership occurred when Clarke got stuck on 99 for 24 balls before smashing the ball square on the off-side to the boundary to reach three figures.

Shane Watson helped Clarke add a further 55 in 11 overs for the fifth wicket before JP Duminy claimed a flurry of wickets to leave Australia 494/7 at the close.

If there is one person who will be worrying whether Clarke will declare overnight it has to be Duminy who is sitting on a hat trick after dismissing Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson with successive deliveries. He has already taken career-best figures of 4/73, improving on the 3/67 he took against Pakistan at Dubai last year, and is on the brink not only of a hat trick but of his first five-wicket haul in a Test match innings.

Although he did not take a wicket, the pick of the Proteas attack was Kyle Abbott. He beat the bat on several occasions which has been a rare occurrence in this match and was responsible for 11 of the 15 maiden overs that the home side have managed so far. His economy rate of 2.42 is streets ahead of any other member of the South African attack.