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  Cricket

Australians On Top

 
ADELAIDE, Australia (AP):

AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis stonewalled the Australian bowlers for most of the evening session yesterday, trying desperately to save the second Test and protect South Africa's No. 1 ranking.

Needing a record fourth innings of 430 to win after Australia captain Michael Clarke declared at 267-8 midway through day four, the South Africans slumped to 45-4 including the key wickets of skipper Graham Smith (0) and Hashim Amla (17).

But old school friends du Plessis (19) and de Villiers (12) put on 32 runs in 29 overs to take some sting out of the Australian attack and help South Africa to 77-4 at stumps, keeping their slim hopes of forcing a draw alive. South Africa, still 352 behind with six wickets in hand, need to avoid a series loss here to retain their No. 1-ranking.

"The guys know what they have to do. It's the highest chase in the history of the game if it was to be achieved," South Africa assistant coach Russell Domingo said. "It is far away, but South Africans pride themselves on resilience and we're going to fight right through to the end. We know we're under pressure, and there's every possibility that something special could happen."

hamstring problem

The South African batting line-up contains plenty of batsmen who can occupy the crease, but two of them - Smith and Amla - are out and Jacques Kallis is hampered by a hamstring problem that means he has to come in down the order, can't bowl and is unlikely to play in the third Test.

Ben Hilfenhaus made an important breakthrough for Australia when he had Smith out in the first over, edging to Ricky Ponting at second slip. Nathan Lyon removed Amla just before tea, then struck again immediately after the interval when he had Jacques Rudolph (3) well caught at short leg by Ed Cowan to make the total 45-3. The South Africans didn't add a run before opener Alviro Petersen (24) was beaten by Peter Siddle and lost his stumps.

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