By Nick Said
CAPE TOWN, March 23 (Reuters) – Seamer Morne Morkel claimed his 300th wicket as South Africa took control of the third test when they reduced Australia to 150 for five at tea on the second day, still 161 runs behind their hosts´ first innings score at Newlands on Friday.
Opener Cameron Bancroft was out for 77 from the ball before the interval after mounting a lone rally for the tourists, trapped leg before wicket by Vernon Philander.
Mitchell Marsh (0 not out) will resume the innings with Tim Paine as Australia seek to close the deficit in the knowledge that batting last on a wicket with steep bounce and some sideways movement will be a huge challenge.
Morkel (3-43) reached his landmark 20 minutes before tea when Shaun Marsh (26) slashed at a wide delivery and was comfortably caught by wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock.
The tall fast bowler, who has announced he will retire from all forms of international cricket after this series, has been the chief destroyer for the home side, having earlier removed Usman Khawaja (5) and claimed the key wicket of Australia captain Steve Smith (5).
Khawaja was caught at fine leg by Kagiso Rabada attempting a hook, a poor choice of shot, while Smith played at a rising delivery well-outside his off-stump and edged to Dean Elgar in the gully.
It continued a poor series for Smith, who is averaging just 27 from five innings, and he looked out of sorts having been roughed up by some fierce fast bowling from Rabada before lunch.
Rabada (1-60 in 12 overs) has been expensive as Australia took the attack to him, particularly opener David Warner, who raced to 30 off only 13 balls.
Yet the paceman got his revenge with a superb delivery that cannoned into the top of off-stump.
Elgar earlier carried his bat on 141 not out as South Africa were bowled out for 311 on the second morning.
His efforts helped the home side add 45 runs to their overnight score of 266-8.
Elgar and Rabada (22) took their ninth wicket partnership to exactly 50 before the latter edged a Nathan Lyon (2-43) delivery to Smith at slip.
Four balls later, the spinner repeated the dismissal as Morkel (4) was also gobbled up by Smith, a fifth catch of the innings for the Australian captain to equal the most ever in test history, one of 11 outfield players to achieve the feat.
The series is level at 1-1 with the final match to be played in Johannesburg. (Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by John O’Brien and Toby Davis)
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