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Aussies in box seat but Ponting under fire
By Ben Horne
20:15 AEST Sat Nov 24 2012

South Africa wedged another major spanner in the career of Ricky Ponting but will likely need a record fourth-innings chase at the Adelaide Oval to perform a miracle in the second Test.

Australia suffered a significant final-session collapse on day three to put Ponting (16) even further under the microscope.

But despite the carnage, which also effectively ended Rob Quiney's two-Test stint in the baggy green, the Australians are in the box seat at 5-111, with in-form duo Michael Clarke (9no) and Mike Hussey (5no) at the crease.

They enjoy a commanding 273-run lead with five wickets in hand and two days left.

Should Australia win and set up a chance to complete a series victory in the third Test in Perth, the hosts will likely usurp South Africa as the world No.1 team.

There's certainly time for the never-say-die South Africans to do the unthinkable on day four and they'll be boosted by the fact the Australian attack is likely to be without James Pattinson, who suffered a side strain.

But the pitch is rapidly turning into a minefield and spinner Nathan Lyon can smell blood.

"I'm feeling great and pretty excited about the opportunity that lies ahead," said Lyon.

"There's definitely going to be a chance for myself to hopefully contribute to a Test match victory for Australia.

"We're pretty happy with where we're sitting at the moment.

"(We'll bat for) as many runs as possible."

The highest successful fourth-innings chase at Adelaide Oval was 315 by Australia against England back in 1901-02.

Even if they declared immediately, Australia's lead would require the second biggest chase ever seen at the ground.

However there's no doubt Australia missed a chance to completely hammer home their advantage - and Ponting (0, 4, 16 for the series) may pay the price.

It's likely he'll survive for Perth, but question marks remain ahead of the Sri Lankan series and ultimately next year's Ashes.

Proteas rookie Rory Kleinveldt (3-14) caused carnage in the final session on Saturday, getting rid of David Warner (41), Quiney (who endured a pair for the match) and Ed Cowan (29).

Pattinson was forced from the field when he experienced pain in his side midway through bowling the 83rd over.

He was rushed for scans and the results are expected on Sunday.

But leaving the field and needing scans is a bad sign for the injury-prone 22-year-old, who would have to be in severe doubt for the third Test in Perth - a surface where the firebrand quick would be desperately missed.

Lyon (2-91 from 44) was well supported by Ben Hilfenhaus (3-49) and Peter Siddle (2-130) in bowling South Africa out for 388 - 162 runs shy of Australia's first innings 550.

But the Proteas displayed great courage on day three.

Jacques Kallis made 58 despite battling a hamstring injury which will likely rule him out of the third Test.

And the fast bowlers Kleinveldt, Dale Steyn (1-28) and Morne Morkel (1-24) stood up at the death.

Lyon wasn't surprised by the Proteas' fight.

"They're the No.1 Test nation for a reason so it definitely wasn't going to be an easy task," he said.


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