Debutant Faf du Plessis the hero as Proteas cling on for draw

Proteas

Debutant Faf du Plessis batted throughout the final day for a defiant unbeaten century to guide South Africa to a thrilling draw against Australia in the second Adelaide Test today.

Man-of-the-match du Plessis occupied the crease for almost eight hours in a feat of physical and mental endurance to ensure the Proteas avoided defeat and take the three-Test series to a decider starting in Perth on Friday.

Australia must win the series to take the world number one ranking from South Africa.

In a gripping finish, lion-hearted fast bowler Peter Siddle had Dale Steyn caught at mid-wicket for a duck and then bowled Rory Kleinveldt (3) with a yorker deep inside the final hour of play.

Siddle gave everything in the final over of the Test in search of the last two wickets but Morne Morkel held on.

It was the second time the South Africans had batted out for a draw in the series after denying Australia's unlikely victory push in the Brisbane opener earlier this month.

At stumps Du Plessis, who needed physio treatment for cramps late in the day, was unconquered on 110 with Morkel not out eight in South Africa's 248 for eight.

Du Plessis, who scored 78 in the first innings, reached his dogged century in his maiden Test with a cover drive for two off Ben Hilfenhaus in the hour after tea.

He was at the crease for 464 minutes and faced 376 balls in his draining knock. He survived two reviews after being given out by umpire Billy Bowden and was dropped by wicketkeeper Matthew Wade on 94.

Du Plessis had his life on the penultimate ball before tea when Wade failed to hold a tough chance while standing up to the stumps to paceman Hilfenhaus.

He was also given out on 33 when he padded up and did not offer a shot to Michael Clarke's spin. But he stayed put after a review found the ball had pitched just outside the line.

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