Cape Town, March 5: South Africa looked like holding out for a fighting draw in the third and last Test Wednesday when Australia skipper Michael Clarke called Ryan Harris for one final burst with five overs and two wickets remaining. The lion-hearted pacer delivered by dismissing Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel to bowl his side to a 245-run win to clinch the series 2-1.
Harris, 34, came on the tour putting off a knee surgery till the series was over, had the best figures of four for 32 for the innings and seven wickets in the match. His new ball partner Mitchell Johnson also finished with seven wickets in the Test, claiming three in the second innings.
South Africa fought hard to save the Test, the last for their skipper Graeme Smith who has retired from international cricket at the end of it, though they had only six wickets to do that when play resumed on the last day.
A.B. de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, J.P. Duminy and Vernon Philander, who remained not out in both the innings and scoring a fifty in the second, fought valiantly and in the end it was a case of so near and yet so far.
Philander and Steyn doggedly held on for 75 minutes as Australia got desperate to get the last two wickets. It was left to Harris to oblige his captain. He first yorked Steyn and two balls later beat Morkel’s defence.
Steven Smith’s part-time leg-spin came in handy to provide the decisive breakthrough when he trapped Du Plessis leg before just before tea, leaving the Aussies to get three wickets in the last session.
Du Plessi consumed 157 minutes for his 47, but it was De Villiers (43) who batted for 326 minutes and 228 balls to give the South African hope of saving the match before Harris removed him.
Australia 494 for 7 decl (David Warner 135, Michael Clarke 161 not out, Steve Smith 84, Shane Watson 40; J P Duminy 4/73) and 303 for 5 decl. (Chris Rogers 39, Warner 145, Alex Doolan 30, Watson 25, Smith 36 not out; Kyle Abbott 3/61)
South Africa 287 (Alviro Petersen 53, Hashim Amla 38, Faf du Plessis 67, Vernon Philander 37 not out, Dale Steyn 28; Ryan Harris 3/63, Mitchell Johnson 4/42) and 265 (Amla 41, AB de Villiers 43, Du Plessis 47, Duminy 43, Philander 51 not out; Harris 4/32, Johnson 3/92, James Pattinson 2/62).