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Proteas rally after early jolts

SOUTH Africa recovered from two early strikes by fast bowler Peter Siddle to reach 145 for two in the second innings at tea on the fourth day of the second test against Australia in Durban yesterday.

Set an improbable 546 to win and level the three-match series, South African openers Hashim Amla (43) and Neil McKenzie (31) set about making inroads on the target before Siddle stopped them in their tracks.

He had McKenzie caught by keeper Brad Haddin in the second over of his third spell and Amla caught by Ricky Ponting at second slip in the fifth over of his spell as Australia threatened to tear through the top order.

But Jacques Kallis (32 not out) and A.B. de Villiers (25 not out) settled the hosts' nerves as they added 65 for the third wicket in a stand that featured some counter-attacking stroke-play.

Both openers were dismissed for ducks in the first innings, but Amla in particular looked a lot more assured second time around, driving seamer Andrew McDonald for three fours in the last over before lunch.

Amla had to face some intimidating bowling from Siddle, who worked him out superbly. The seamer peppered Amla with short deliveries for a couple of overs, once striking him on the chest. Then, when he pitched one up, Amla lunged into the drive only to offer a catch to Ponting in the slips. Amla hit eight boundaries in two hours.

Kallis, South Africa's key batsman with Graeme Smith highly unlikely to bat due to a fractured finger, was dropped first ball by Marcus North at slip off Siddle as he prodded at a delivery outside off-stump.

De Villiers started brightly and Kallis found his timing towards the end of the session with some sumptuous pull shots.

Australia had resumed on 292 for three and batted on for 35 minutes before declaring its second innings on 331 for five, leaving the visitors with a massive lead of 545 runs.

Opener Phillip Hughes, who has hit back-to-back centuries in this test and the youngest to do so, cashed in as he added another 24 runs in 20 balls.

He belted Makhaya Ntini's first ball of the day through extra cover for four and was soon smashing Dale Steyn back over his head for six to raise his 150 after six hours and 312 deliveries at the crease.

The left-hander stepped away and slashed once too often, though, slicing a catch to third man off Ntini to be dismissed for 160 in the seventh over of the day.

De Villiers then took a nonchalant one-handed catch at second slip to dismiss North for a duck off Steyn.


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