SOUTH AFRICA staved off Australia’s push for an unlikely victory to bat out for a draw in the first Gabba Test on Tuesday, though the home team could take heart from having the better of the encounter.
The top-ranked South Africans lost five wickets and effectively were six down with injured JP Duminy unable to bat, but the Australians frustrated by calls going against them could not make further inroads.
At the close after trailing by 115 runs on the first innings, South Africa were 166 for five with AB de Villiers not out 29 and Vernon Philander not out one. The draw ensured that Australia retained their unbeaten record at the Brisbane ground which stretches back to the West Indies’ victory in 1988.
The teams head to Adelaide for next week’s second match of the three-Test series all square, but with Australia shading the opening match and having the world’s best team under pressure on the final day of their showdown.
“At the end of the day there’s no result in this Test match,” Australia skipper Michael Clarke said.
“We have to win this series to get back to being the number one Test team in the world, so we have to do our best to push for a win at every opportunity.” The Aussies have now not lost in their last eight Tests under Clarke, while the Proteas, under Graeme Smith, have not lost an away Test match since India at Calcutta in February, 2010.
“There’s enough time to reflect and to get one or two things right for Adelaide,” Smith said.
“I felt we were ahead of the game going into day four, 40 for three, we just never quite backed up well enough on day four. “All in all, I think a draw was an even reflection on how the surface played for both teams.” Clarke was named man-ofthe- match for his third double- century of the year, his unbeaten 259 which turned the match away from the Proteas over the closing two days.
South Africa lost Alviro Petersen (5), Smith (23) and Hashim Amla (38) before tea, but Jacques Kallis and de Villiers restored stability and held up the Australian assault.
Kallis was out one short of his half-century when Clarke took a splendid one-handed catch at slip off spinner Nathan Lyon in the 49th over.
Jacques Rudolph survived a vociferous lbw appeal off Siddle before he had scored but umpire Billy Bowden was unmoved amid the excited Australian fielders, but he ultimately went lbw to Lyon for 11 heading into the final hour.
Australia earlier declared their first innings at 565 for five with a lead of 115 in the hope of grabbing early wickets to force an improbable victory on a bat-friendly pitch.