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Page last updated at 07:31 GMT, Sunday, 28 December 2008

Duminy fightback stuns Australia

Second Test, Melbourne, day three (close):
Australia 394 & 4-0 v South Africa 459
Match scorecard

JP Duminy
Duminy came of age to produce an astonishing innings in Melbourne

A remarkable ninth-wicket partnership of 180, the third best in Test history, saw South Africa establish an unlikely first-innings lead of 65 in Melbourne.

JP Duminy was the last wicket to fall for a magnificent 166 after South Africa had started day three on a worrying 198-7, still 196 behind.

The Duminy-led fightback included Paul Harris's 39 and an extraordinary 76 from Dale Steyn in a total of 459.

At stumps, Australia were 4-0 in the early stages of their second innings.

Duminy had made his Test debut in Perth, where he hit a wonderfully composed 50 not out in South Africa's famous successful chase of 414.

The 24-year-old trumped that effort, though, with this terrific display of concentration in which he faced 340 deliveries and struck 18 boundaries.

And he found a particularly adhesive partner in number 10 batsman Steyn, who himself hung around for 191 deliveries.

Their partnership, played out before a disbelieving packed crowd at the MCG, spanned nearly 64 overs from well before lunch until beyond the tea interval.

MV Boucher, PL Symcox - 195 (SA v Pkn, Jo'burg, 1998)
Asif Iqbal, Intikhab Alam - 190 (Pkn v Eng, The Oval, 1967)
JP Duminy, DW Steyn - 180
(SA v Aus, Melbourne, 2008)
MC Cowdrey, AC Smith - 163 (Eng v NZ, Wellington, 1963)
It was a sorry day for Australia's bowlers, who desperately missed the cutting edge of Brett Lee. The experienced paceman missed the day's play with a sore left foot.

And although Lee has been upstaged by Peter Siddle and Mitchell Johnson in the series, those two seemed to panic without the presence of the experienced attack leader.

Duminy allowed Steyn - dropped three times by Australia in the field - to hit most of the extravagant shots in their stand, as he mainly nudged and scampered towards three figures.

He spent half an hour in the 90s and there was relief when he cut Siddle through gully for four, raised both arms and kissed his helmet badge. His team-mates had come down to the boundary edge to applaud his terrific effort.

Steyn's best moments came when he hit Johnson for two straight drives for four and mirrored the shot off Siddle to bring up his half-century. His personal memories will also include the towering six struck off Nathan Hauritz.

The off-spinner spent the day more as the bowler who has struggled to get into the New South Wales team in recent seasons, rather than a man with the skill to remove Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher on Saturday.

Not only did South Africa add 261 runs on the third day, but they took significant time away from Ricky Ponting's team, who need a victory to level the three-match contest.

cricket fan (female)
The tone for the day had been set by South Africa's number nine Harris, who treated the bowling with some disdain before being dislodged by the part-time medium pace of Michael Hussey, Johnson taking a good catch running back from mid-on.

He and Duminy had put on 67 for the eighth wicket, but with the total 251-8 Australia still held a 141-run lead. Yet unbelievably, they had to wait more than five hours for their next wicket.

Steyn, who refused to be cowed after taking bruising blows on both hands, was first spared on 32 by Ponting, who dropped a fairly straightforward slip chance to his right off Johnson.

Hussey looked like an amateur when, a run later, he lost a skier at mid-on and desperately tried to shield the ball from the sun with each hand before letting it drop to the ground without even attempting a catch.

It was a moment of high farce which summed up Australia's day, but Hauritz - who was the bowler for the Hussey chance - had no-one to blame but himself when failing to take the simplest of caught-and-bowled offerings from Steyn on 57.

Steyn had only ever had two half-centuries in 77 first-class innings prior to this.

He was finally bowled by Siddle, but Duminy had time to go to his 150, a landmark reached with a sumptuous on-drive off Johnson, before sweeping Hauritz to short fine-leg.

It probably will happen [that I will be dropped]. If Ashwell's fit to play I'm sure he will play. But I'm just thankful for the opportunity. I've got a taste of Test cricket

JP Duminy
Highlights of his innings will show an array of drives through the covers and past mid-on off the fast bowlers, and some nice pulls when the spinners dropped short.

But it was a wonderfully-constructed effort which suggested a player who could have a big future in front of him.

Michael Clarke, Australia's shell-shocked vice-captain, said afterwards: "It was a very disappointing day and another example of how fast things can change in Test cricket.

"We've got a big day tomorrow. We're going to have to come out and bat really well and then we'll wait and see what happens. I still believe if we bat well tomorrow we can get ourselves into a position to win this Test match."

A modest Duminy said he was prepared to lose his place in the side when Ashwell Prince returns from injury.

He said: "I probably came out here thinking I wouldn't play, being that I've travelled now for a year without getting a game. But stranger things have happened in life. Ashwell gets hit the day before the first Test on the thumb and there I was in the Test [at Perth].

"It probably will happen [that I will be dropped]. If Ashwell's fit to play I'm sure he will play. But I'm just thankful for the opportunity. I've got a taste of Test cricket so I'm just looking forward to the next game."

Duminy said of Steyn: "He showed a hell of a lot of guts today. He got hit quite a bit but also he played and missed quite a bit, so a lot of luck went our way as well. He stuck it out and we kept talking to each other, trying to motivate each other to stay calm, play the moment, play the ball and it worked out for us today."

Australia's Andrew Symonds entered the game carrying a knee injury which has continued to restrict his movements. He was kept out of the attack until the 125th over and his fitness will be re-assessed at the end of the match.

The world's three leading news agencies are not covering the series due to a dispute with Cricket Australia.

Reuters, Agence France-Presse and Associated Press have suspended all coverage of the 2008-09 season.

Their photographers and reporters did not supply material from within the ground. As a result, we cannot use pictures from the current match.

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see also
Aussies wobble after Ponting ton
26 Dec 08 |  Cricket
Hayden ready to fight for place
24 Dec 08 |  Australia
Australia turn to spinner Hauritz
25 Dec 08 |  International Teams
S Africa run chase stuns Aussies
21 Dec 08 |  Cricket

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