Australian bowlers leave South Africa in tatters

Nathan Lyon proved to be the difference up front once the Aussies got the ball though as he ran through the top order, taking crucial wickets.

Opener Cameron Bancroft's half century helped the visitors stretch their lead.

"A few guys probably came in not having hit enough but they have played a lot of cricket and they know what is required to do well at this level".

South Africa will have to chase over 400, and after their first-innings collapse, will want to put on a better show in their second dig. A fired-up Morkel then returned to the attack to remove Shaun Marsh (33), Mitchell Starc (7) and Nathan Lyon (2).

South Africa needed to make 417, its highest-ever fourth innings score at Kingsmead in Durban, to win or bat for two days to save a draw. But the left-handed wicketkeeper looked in good touch from the start and took the fight to the Australians. And De Kock scored 20 runs.

In the absence of a functioning batting line-up, the bowlers took on the responsibility of giving the Proteas a fighting chance when it seemed the team had already given up.

With a lead of 189 from the first innings, Australia was in complete command despite the three wickets each for spinner Keshav Maharaj and quick bowler Morne Morkel, and two for pacer Kagiso Rabada to go with Elgar's surprise strike.

Australia had said overnight that they would be delighted to get 300 runs and Marsh steered them through a hard time in the first session after South Africa had taken the second new ball and snagged three wickets before lunch.

His performance suggests he is becoming the player to watch.

Earlier, Australia's last-wicket pair added 14 runs to their overnight total of 213 for 9 before being bowled out for 227.

Morkel's decision to retire came as a shock, given he took 39 wickets in 2017, 19 of which came away from home in England as South Africa's leading wicket-taker on tour.

Even before the flurry of wickets, the Proteas were going to have to produce something special to avoid going 1-0 down in the four-Test series. Two other Saffers got run out without facing a delivery in a Test inning.

The Paine and Marsh combination opened up an end for Starc, who threatened to bring the match to the swiftest of finishes with three wickets in a single over before poor light forced the use of spin for the final 40 minutes.

  • Julie Sanders