South Africa relishing Perth after fighting draw

MELBOURNE Tue Nov 27, 2012 10:02am IST

South Africa's captain Graeme Smith (centre R) walks with teammate and player of the match Faf du Plessis (centre L) onto the Adelaide cricket ground after the fifth day's play of the second test cricket match against Australia November 26, 2012. REUTERS/Regi Varghese

South Africa's captain Graeme Smith (centre R) walks with teammate and player of the match Faf du Plessis (centre L) onto the Adelaide cricket ground after the fifth day's play of the second test cricket match against Australia November 26, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Regi Varghese

Election 2014

Election 2014

More than 814 million people — a number larger than the population of Europe — are eligible to vote in the world’s biggest democratic exercise.  Full Coverage 

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - South Africa head into the third and final test against Australia believing that if all else fails their deep reservoir of grit and determination can still be counted on to confront the most daunting of challenges.

Dominated by Australia for much of the epic, drawn Adelaide test will feel like more of a victory for Graeme Smith's injury-hit Proteas, whose batsmen turned a seemingly hopeless cause into a brilliant save on the final day.

The series remains locked at 0-0 after Brisbane and Adelaide, and South Africa's status as the top-ranked test side will be re-examined in Perth when the final match begins on Friday.

The Proteas skipper, however, paid credit to the resilience of his players, who remain unbeaten on tour since February 2010.

"It's really a strengthening point for us considering we haven't played very well," Smith said of the Adelaide draw.

"We had another couple of big injuries in this test match that created a little bit of hassle for us and we still managed to scrape through after not being in great positions.

"We haven't been at our best but we still haven't been beaten, and that's a very rewarding feeling for us."

Having already lost all-rounder JP Duminy for the series with an Achilles injury, the Proteas withdrew frontline paceman Vernon Philander from Adelaide after he pulled up with a back injury.

All-rounder Jacques Kallis strained a hamstring early on day one to compound South Africa's woes, but the 37-year-old battled on to score a half-century to help his team avoid the follow-on and then a gritty 38 in the fourth innings.

Duminy's injury opened the door for Faf du Plessis to produce a sensational debut, with 78 in the first innings and superb century in the second to guide South Africa to safety on day five and earn man-of-the-match honours.

Philander's replacement Rory Kleinveldt also made the most of his opportunity, taking three wickets to be the pick of South Africa's bowlers in the second innings after a wicketless debut in Brisbane.

Kleinveldt's performance, along with a dogged effort from paceman Morne Morkel, did gloss over a patchy test for South Africa's bowlers, who were blasted for 482 runs on day one.

Queries over Dale Steyn's fitness remain after he had treatment for a leg strain.

Legspinner Imran Tahir's international career may be over after he went wicketless for 260 runs, the most runs conceded without taking a wicket in test cricket.

Philander is expected to be fully fit for Perth, but Smith had his fingers crossed that Kallis could be retained, despite the team's doctor all but ruling him out.

"To watch him be able to still perform with the bat was a crucial factor in the game," said Smith. "He played two very important knocks and his experience and skill definitely shone through.

"Ideally, we'd love to have him fit for Perth. He's definitely not going to bowl, but if we can have him just as a batter, that would be the ideal case."

Australia's bowlers were dead on their legs after toiling for a day and a half in the Adelaide heat without the support of injured paceman James Pattinson.

Australia captain Michael Clarke has already said Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle may not be fit enough for Perth and has called in a bullpen of back-up quicks as cover.

"Obviously, we've had an extra day of rest from a bowling perspective," Smith said. "Both teams will be pretty battered and bruised.

"We have five days left on this tour and an opportunity to create something special. That's what we were fighting for."

(Editing by Alastair Himmer)

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Remembering Ayrton Senna

Handwritten notes and flags left by fans are pictured near the memorial statue of Brazilian Formula One driver Ayrton Senna at the race track in Imola April 22, 2014. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofal

Senna's simple grave a magnet for fans 20 years on

Ayrton Senna is as discreet in death as he was lively in life. The last resting place of Brazil's most charismatic Formula One champion is marked by a brass plaque on a circular lawn, surrounded by almost identical plaques laid into the ground.There is no headstone and just a handful of flowers in plastic pots.  Full Article 

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Overwhelmed Moyes

Overwhelmed Moyes

Moyes left all at sea by scale of United job, says former coach.  Full Article 

Comeback Event

Comeback Event

Michael Phelps beaten in first comeback final.  Full Article 

Club For Country

Club For Country

Blatter wants to revive 6+5 proposal.  Full Article 

Europa League

Europa League

Benfica and Sevilla secure Europa League wins.  Full Article 

Fatherhood Looming

Fatherhood Looming

Novak Djokovic set to become a dad.  Full Article 

Premier League

Premier League

Liverpool seek to land knockout blow on Chelsea.  Full Article 

La Liga

La Liga

No rest for weary Atletico as Valencia trip looms.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage