Elgar and du Plessis build SA lead on stop-start morning | Cricket Bats | Australia

Lunch South Africa 488 and 202 for 3 (Du Plessis 81*, Elgar 59*) lead Australia 221 by 469 runs
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First, do no harm. That appeared to be the mindset of Faf du Plessis and Dean Elgar on the fourth day in Johannesburg, where they batted and batted and batted, and extended South Africa’s lead from 401 at the start of play to 469 at lunch. Only defeat in this Test will prevent South Africa from beating Australia in a home Test series for the first time since 1970, and eliminating even the remotest possibility of an Australian victory seemed to be South Africa’s approach on day four.

South Africa’s method was best summed up by the fact that Elgar did not score a single run until the 65th ball of the day’s play. By the time he lifted Chadd Sayers over the infield for two, Elgar had also seen 91 deliveries bowled in the match since his last run. Incongruously, he later brought up his fifty with a six clubbed over long-on off the bowling of Mitchell Marsh, his half-century having come in 199 deliveries and 305 minutes.

The session was shortened by rain and bad light, and Australia had only one real moment of hope, when they reviewed a not-out decision when du Plessis tried to hook Pat Cummins. The replays showed no edge on the way to wicketkeeper Tim Paine, and du Plessis survived. He went on to bring up his first half-century of the series from his 103rd ball.

At lunch, du Plessis was on 81, Elgar had 59, and South Africa had moved along to 202 for 3, adding 68 to their overnight total. Already, Australia would well and truly need the highest successful chase in Test history to pull off a miraculous win. It was just a question of when du Plessis would finally give them a chance to bat.


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