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Page last updated at 17:17 GMT, Sunday, 1 March 2009

South Africa set for tense finale

First Test, Johannesburg (day four, close):
Australia 466 and 207 v South Africa 220 and 178-2
Dates: 26 February-2 March Start time: 0830 GMT
Coverage: Scorecard and reports on BBC Sport website. Live on Sky Sports
Match scorecard


South Africa captain Graeme Smith
Graeme Smith was in fine form before falling for 69

South Africa need a further 276 runs on the final day to win the first Test against Australia after reaching 178-2 at stumps on day four in Johannesburg.

The hosts, chasing a world record 454 for victory, lost Neil McKenzie (35) and skipper Graeme Smith (69).

But Hashim Amla (43) and Jacques Kallis (26) remained unbeaten at the close.

Earlier, Kallis struck three times in six balls as Australia collapsed from 99-1 to 207 all out in their second innings, despite Phillip Hughes' 75.

South Africa will go into the final day boosted by the knowledge that they scored 414-4 - the second-biggest successful pursuit in Tests - to win the first Test against Australia in Perth in December.

But they will have to beat the record for the highest chase, which was set by West Indies in 2003 and stands at 418, and cope with a pitch that is starting to show variations in bounce.

Once you have got in, it is possible to get a big score but the secret is to get started because wickets have tended to fall in clumps

South Africa spinner Paul Harris

Australia coach Tim Nielsen said he expected his side to win the match.

"I can't see anything else but us winning and then the mental state of this young team will be over the top," he said.

"We are definitely in the driving seat and I'm very proud of the team."

But South Africa spinner Paul Harris said: "We can certainly draw on the experience of Perth.

"The pitch here isn't as flat as the one at Perth and the target is a bit larger but the guys have felt a lot more comfortable batting in the second innings than they did earlier in the match.

"Once you have got in, it is possible to get a big score but the secret is to get started because wickets have tended to fall in clumps."

All-rounder Kallis brought his side back into the match as South Africa claimed eight wickets in the morning session as Australia slumped from 51-1 to 174-9.

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Kallis, who had been restricted to bowling just eight overs in the first innings, removed Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey with successive deliveries in his first over.

He then took a sharp catch to dismiss Michael Clarke in the next over from Harris.

Kallis saw off Marcus North with a ball that kept low and bowled the Test debutant.

Hughes, who scored a duck in his first Test innings, made a gutsy 75 before Harris had him brilliantly caught at leg-slip by AB de Villiers.

Makhaya Ntini took three more wickets before Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus put on 33 runs for the last wicket.

Smith and McKenzie gave the hosts a solid start before McKenzie fell to Mitchell Johnson and Smith pulled Hilfenhaus to mid-on.

South Africa will have 98 overs to win on Monday but their main priority will be to prevent Australia winning the match.

Australia, meanwhile, have asked seam bowler Brett Geeves to join their squad as cover for Doug Bollinger, who is suffering from a strained stomach muscle.

Geeves, 26, played a one-day international against Bangladesh last year, but has yet to appear in Test cricket.

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see also
Australia open huge lead over SA
28 Feb 09 |  Cricket
S Africa recover after North ton
27 Feb 09 |  Cricket
North stakes claim for Test place
22 Feb 09 |  Australia
Prince left out of S Africa squad
11 Feb 09 |  South Africa


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