Australia 111-5 on day 3, lead Proteas by 273
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Rory Kleinveldt took three top-order wickets to help pull South Africa back into contention in the second test by restricting Australia to 111-5 at stumps Saturday, a lead of 273 with two days to play.
The Australians had a 162-run cushion after dismissing South Africa for 388 on day three, and were coasting at 77 without loss in the second innings until Kleinveldt struck.
The second-test paceman dismissed David Warner (41) and Rob Quiney (0) within three balls and then bowled Ed Cowan (29) as Australia slipped to 91-3.
Dale Steyn chipped in with the wicket of Ricky Ponting (16), who dragged a wide ball back onto his stumps to make it 98-4. Night watchman Peter Siddle faced 16 balls before he was caught behind off Morne Morkel as the Australians slipped to 103-5, bringing Mike Hussey to the crease to rejoin Clarke. The pair put on 272 for the fifth wicket on day one to help Australia to 550 in the first innings.
It was a day of wild momentum swings, with South Africa losing 5-17 in a morning session collapse and Australia losing 5-26 late.
After resuming Saturday at 217-2, South Africa lost established batsmen Jacques Rudolph (29) and Graeme Smith (122) on 233, then needed a 93-run eighth-wicket stand between a wounded Jacques Kallis (58) and test rookie du Plessis (78) to take the threat of the follow-on out of the equation.
Kallis, who injured his right hamstring bowling on the first morning, came in at No. 9 and stroked 11 boundaries and a six before he was caught behind off the part-time spin of left-armer Michael Clarke.
Du Plessis scored 78 from 159 balls and was chasing runs in the last-wicket stand when he miscued to Clarke at short mid-on with the total at 388, giving Ben Hilfenhaus figures of 3-49 in 20 overs.