Proteas on the back foot

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

SYDNEY - Peter Siddle picked up his first five-wicket Test haul as Australia seized a notable advantage on day three yesterday of the third and 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.

But Australia are in an excellent position to produce a Test victory - even with a novice attack - albeit having won a vital toss on a wicket that by the day is creating havoc for the confidence of batsmen.

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 run out at the striker's end for 11 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. - BBC

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