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Siddle wickets put Aussies on top

Third Test, Sydney (day three, stumps):
Australia 445 & 33-0 v South Africa 327

Match scorecard

Peter Siddle
Peter Siddle wrapped up South Africa's tail with great skill

Peter Siddle picked up his first five-wicket Test haul as Australia seized a notable advantage on day three of the final Test against South Africa.

Resuming the day on 125-1, and with Graeme Smith out with a broken hand, South Africa were dismissed for 327.

Australia then reached 33-0 for a lead of 151, Matthew Hayden surviving a very close lbw appeal from Dale Steyn.

South Africa's score owed much to a 115-run partnership between Mark Boucher (89) and Morne Morkel (40).

Their sixth-wicket stand either side of tea was the only high point in a generally uncertain performance by South Africa, who were understandably suspicious of a pitch with widening cracks - one of which had caused their skipper Smith's injury.

Monday's play was always going to be an important baptism for the inexperienced Australian attack.

With Brett Lee and Stuart Clark both out injured, Shane Warne in the commentary box and Glenn McGrath encouraging the crowd to turn pink for breast cancer awareness in his late wife Jane's memory, Ricky Ponting was relying on a bowling group that boasted Mitchell Johnson (17 Tests) as its most experienced member.

606: DEBATE
BBC Sport's Oliver Brett
The first session was a good one for the hosts. South Africa lost three wickets and were unable to score with much freedom.

Hashim Amla concentrated hard to bring up his half-century from 125 balls, having lost his overnight partner Jacques Kallis early in the day when the veteran all-rounder slashed carelessly at a wide one from Johnson and edged to slip.

The next wicket was highly avoidable, AB de Villiers (11) run out at the striker's end by a direct hit from Johnson at mid-on. The batsman began the run without sufficient urgency and was several inches short of his ground when the stumps were broken.

Johnson chipped in again after lunch - and after Amla himself had departed - when he jagged one back off a crack to pin JP Duminy in front for 13.

And so, with the scoreboard reading 193-5, Boucher and Morkel began their recovery mission.

Boucher began in a defensive mode before gradually building up his strokeplay. He took three fours from an off-target Andrew McDonald to move past 50, although he missed the chance for a sixth Test hundred when he was the last man out, bowled by paceman Siddle.

Morkel defended with a straight bat and attacked with pulls and cuts but both he and Boucher had their moments of fortune.

The wicket is deteriorating quickly but we have done some miraculous things throughout the series

Mark Boucher
The Australians saw a bail bob up and back down into position not once but twice, when Nathan Hauritz turned one into Boucher's leg stump and when Morkel's inside edge off Johnson clipped the side of his off stump.

Doug Bollinger had a couple of perilously close lbw shouts turned down. He was unable to break through for a maiden Test wicket.

McDonald's big moment came when he had Amla lbw for 51 just before lunch, although he struggled later on.

Siddle's accuracy was rewarded by his late wickets, two men bowled and two lbw. In this form, he is likely to emerge from the series as a major part of Australia's future plans.

He said afterwards: "I'm really pleased, they've been a good crowd. They got behind me after the first couple of wickets and it spurred me to go on and get my first fiver-for.

"There's always pressure, I had a disappointing match over in Perth [for the first Test] and the 13th man [Ben Hilfenhaus] had come into the squad so there's pressure on everyone.

"You want to get your rhythm right and start bowling well. It happened [in the second Test in Melbourne] and I started feeling comfortable so it's all going well at the moment."

Boucher said: "We have to put on a good fight. The wicket is deteriorating quickly but we have done some miraculous things throughout the series and hopefully we can do more of that in this match.

"I don't want to talk about the sort of target we would feel comfortable chasing but obviously anything above 250 is going to be difficult. I thought we did very well to make as many runs as we did in the first innings.

"I would say that the pitch is one of the three most difficult ones I have had to bat on on the third day of a Test match."


The world's three leading news agencies are not covering the series because of 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
Paceman Lee faces five months out
04 Jan 09 |  Australia
SA skipper Smith breaks his hand
04 Jan 09 |  South Africa
Clarke century boosts Australia
04 Jan 09 |  Cricket
Aussies lick their wounds
30 Dec 08 |  Cricket


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