SA wilt under Australian pressure
Australia hold a 297-run lead after bad light stops play on day three.
Last Modified: 28 Feb 2009 17:41 GMT

Debutant Phil Hughes finally gets off the mark [GALLO/GETTY]
Bad light stopped play 35 minutes into the final session on the third day of the first Test between South Africa and Australia on Saturday, with the touring side 297 runs ahead with nine second-innings wickets intact.

Australia reached 51-1 in their second innings after declining to enforce the follow-on despite being 246 runs ahead on the first innings.

Resuming on Sunday will be Australia captain Ricky Ponting on one, and debutant Phillip Hughes on 36.

Hughes, who lasted only four balls in the first innings, hit seven fours on Saturday, but had to withstand some fierce pressure from South Africa's fast bowlers in the last hour of play.

SA in trouble

Earlier, Australia dismissed South Africa for 220 in their first innings.

Middle-order batsman AB de Villiers remained undefeated on 104, his eighth career Test hundred.

For Australia left-arm seamer Mitchell Johnson’s haul was 4-25, while Peter Siddle finished with 3-76.

Ponting opted against asking South Africa to bat again immediately with his three main seamers likely to struggle to bowl two innings in succession.

After South Africa had limped to lunch on 158-8, De Villiers and Dale Steyn stretched their ninth-wicket partnership to 52 before Steyn (17) nicked one to Marcus North in the slips.

De Villiers struck nine fours and a six in compiling a patient century, although he was lucky to be dropped on 64 off Siddle immediately after lunch, by wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.

Two wickets in four balls from Johnson had rocked South Africa in the morning session.

Mitchell Johnson appeals for the wicket of Mark Boucher [AFP]
Johnson in control

In the 58th over of the innings, Johnson, a batting hero with an aggressive 96 not out on Friday, had JP Duminy touch one down leg to wicketkeeper Haddin when he was on 17.

Three balls later Mark Boucher (0) was adjudged by umpire Billy Bowden to have edged Johnson to Haddin, although the batsman immediately asked for the decision to be referred to the third umpire.

In the pavilion TV umpire Asad Rauf upheld Bowdens decision and South Africa were in the mire on 138-6.

The situation worsened for the Proteas when Morne Morkel (two) and Paul Harris (one) were dismissed in the 15 minutes before lunch, although Harris looked unfortunate to be given out lbw after being struck outside the line of off-stump by spinner North.

In the first hour of play on Saturday, opener Neil McKenzie had also asked for his lbw decision to be referred.

It too was upheld and he was on his way for 36.

South Africa had a let-off when Duminy was dropped on 13 by Ponting in the slips, a fumble that did not turn out to be too costly.

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