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Australia knock over South Africa, but choose not to enforce follow-on

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Australia outplayed South Africa for the third day in a row to take a commanding overall lead in the third Sunfoil Test match at Sahara Park Newlands on Monday. Australian captain Michael Clarke made his expected declaration overnight and then his bowlers worked their way through the South African order to dismiss them for 287 and claim an overall lead of 207 runs.

It put them in a position to enforce the follow on but it was not an option that appealed to Clarke as he sent his opening batsmen back to the crease for a second time and in the six overs available they scored a fairly untroubled 27 without loss to give them an overall lead of 234 with all their wickets intact and two full days of play left.

There was quite a lot of life in the pitch in the morning session following yesterday’s rain although conditions became more favourable for batting in the afternoon when Faf du Plessis (67 off 135 balls, 6 fours) and Vernon Philander (37 not out off 107 balls, 1 four) managed to add 95 for the seventh wicket.

But most of the damage had already been done as the new ball attack of Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris accounted for most of the top order with the aid of good catching by wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, who claimed four, while the slip cordon of Shane Watson, Clarke and Warner claimed another four between them.

The Proteas top-order was not able to put significant partnerships together with the 53 between Alviro Petersen and Hashim Amla being the best. The wicket of Amla, beautifully bowled by Harris with a delivery that tailed in late to knock over his middle-stump, was the moment of the day.

Amla and Petersen had both looked in ominous form but were unable to contribute the big scores their team needed from them.

Clarke’s decision to bat a second time was probably influenced by his twin desire to give his bowlers a well-deserved rest – Johnson appeared to be struggling with cramp towards the end – and not to lose the advantage he gained at the toss of bowling in the fourth innings.

This is nearly always an important factor at this venue although the pitch still looks good for batting at this stage.