Paine battles fractured thumb to lead Australian fightback | Cricket Bats | Australia

Lunch Australia 201 for 7 (Paine 47*, Lyon 4*) trail South Africa 488 by 287 runs
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Pat Cummins and Tim Paine fought hard to produce Australia’s biggest partnership of the series as South Africa struggled to finish off Australia’s tail on the third day in Johannesburg. The chances of Australia being forced to follow on reduced significantly as Paine and Cummins put on 99 for the seventh wicket, while a side strain sustained by retiring fast bowler Morne Morkel could also figure in captain Faf du Plessis’ decision should it be his to make.

At lunch, Australia had reduced their deficit to 287 runs, meaning they needed a further 88 to take the follow-on completely out of the equation. Paine was still at the crease on 47, with Nathan Lyon on 4, after Cummins had fallen for 50 shortly before lunch. It was the only wicket South Africa had taken in the session, during which the Australians added 91 runs to their overnight total.

South Africa thought they had Paine on 13 when he was adjudged lbw to Vernon Philander, but a review by the batsman showed that he had gained an edge. There were precious few other close moments during the session as Paine and Cummins cruised along without any significant trouble until Cummins missed a sweep off Keshav Maharaj and was trapped in front, the original not-out decision overturned on review.

Cummins brought up his maiden Test half-century off his 91st delivery, and when added to his five-wicket haul earlier in the match, it again highlighted what an important player he will be for Australia in the short- and long-term future. Paine was nearing a half-century by lunch, and his efforts were all the more impressive, given that he was batting with a hairline fracture in his thumb after copping a painful blow on the second day of the Test.


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