sport

Australia take total command

Australia took another large step towards winning the three-match Test series after dismissing South Africa for just 287 on day three of the winner-takes-all match at Newlands.

Captain Michael Clarke chose to declare at the start of the third day with his side on 494-7 in their first-innings and from there on his pace bowlers took centre stage with another typically intimidating display in Cape Town.

Mitchell Johnson's purple patch continued with four more wickets and he was backed up brilliantly by new ball partner Ryan Harris (3-63) and recalled Victorian seamer James Pattinson (2-77).

With a first-innings lead of 207 Clarke had the option of enforcing the follow-on, however he instead decided to pile more misery on the Proteas and watched on as openers Chris Rogers and David Warner reached the close unscathed on 27-0.

Punished

After losing over half of the second day due to rain, Australia declared on their overnight total - stranding South Africa part-time spinner JP Duminy on a hat-trick - and made early inroads in the hosts' reply.

Captain Graeme Smith's poor series continued, he'd made just five before edging a ball angled across him by Harris behind to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.

Alviro Petersen and Dean Elgar put on 35 but the latter was dismissed in spectacular fashion for 11, Haddin this time changing direction to take a magnificent diving catch off Pattinson's bowling.

Petersen then added 53 with Hashim Amla and pushed Johnson for three to reach a run-a-ball half-century, but then had to dig in for a battle as the left-armer produced a hostile spell.

After unflinchingly taking one on the upper arm, Petersen was less secure against the next short ball and gloved down the leg side, giving Johnson a trademark wicket and Haddin his third catch.

The key partnership between Amla and AB De Villiers was then broken on the stroke of lunch when Harris nipped one through Amla's gate to remove him for 38 and leave South Africa tottering on 121-4.

The ball was reversing for Johnson as well and he induced a loose edge from De Villiers (14) shortly after the break, Clarke taking the catch at second slip.

That was 133-5 and it became 146-6 when Duminy edged Harris on the walk and Haddin took the catch.

Defiant

By tea, though, Faf du Plessis and Vernon Philander had staged a recovery of sorts, taking the score to 200-6, and the former joined Petersen past 50 as the Proteas closed in on the follow-on target.

On 67, though, Du Plessis drove away from his body at Johnson and was neatly caught by Warner at point to end the stand five short of 100.

Kyle Abbott (three) played inside a Shane Watson delivery that shaved his off stump but Dale Steyn carved the same bowler for two fours.

Steyn edged one Johnson bouncer for four but was struck on the head by another and after upper-cutting the same bowler for another boundary, he fended him to Watson at slip to depart for a defiant 28.

Morne Morkel pulled Pattinson for four but slashed to Watson two balls later with South Africa 207 runs adrift, not that it mattered, as Clarke told his batsmen to pad up again.