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South Africa continue to dominate subdued Australia at…

By Nick Said

CAPE TOWN, March 25 (Reuters) – South Africa continued to hammer home their sizeable advantage on day four of the third test at Newlands on a dramatic morning in which Australia captain Steve Smith resigned before the start of play on Sunday.

South Africa are 333 for seven at lunch with what already appears a match-winning lead of 389, as Australia looked to be going through the motions with little of their usual spark in the field following the resignation of Smith and his deputy David Warner for the remainder of the test.

Wicketkeeper Tim Paine has taken over the captaincy in what has been a humiliating 24 hours for Australian cricket following the team’s admission on Saturday of an orchestrated attempt to tamper with the ball, sparking one of the biggest scandals in the country’s sporting history.

Vernon Philander (39) and Kagiso Rabada (4) will resume after the interval, looking to push the South African lead past 400 as they seek to open a 2-1 lead in the tempestuous four-match series.

The crowd at Newlands has built up through the morning session but it was sparse at the start of play, so there was no hostile welcome for the Australians from the home supporters.

And as they left the field for the lunch interval, a number of players stopped to sign autographs for eager youngsters as they climbed the steps to their changing room, the charm offensive already starting after what has been a difficult relationship with South African fans in this series.

Resuming on 238-5 on a wicket with bounce and lateral movement, South Africa added 95 runs in 28 overs in the opening session.

The home side lost AB de Villiers (63) as he edged seamer Josh Hazlewood to Shaun Marsh at first slip, a wicket that was celebrated with some relish by the bowler, but with little of the usual enthusiasm by his team mates.

Quinton de Kock (65) looked in good touch before he advanced down the wicket to a Pat Cummins delivery and was caught by Paine.

The tourists are already facing a record run chase if they are to take an unlikely lead in the series, with the previous highest target chased down at Newlands the 331 Australia managed in 2002.

However, that was under very different circumstances with a side that had a settled and vastly experienced top seven batsmen, and one that was not trying to perform in the wake of a huge scandal.

(Reporting By Nick Said; Editing by John O’Brien)


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