No.1 South Africa finish second-best in draw

Nick Mulvenney

South Africa were forced to scrap their way through an uncomfortable final day of the first Test against a Michael Clarke-inspired Australia on Tuesday to save a match they had once looked like winning.

Australia captain Clarke, who made a brilliant unbeaten 259, declared on 565 for five midway through the morning session of the final day with a first innings lead of 115 but his bowlers were unable to make the inroads they needed to force a result.

Jacques Rudolph was adjudged lbw to spinner Nathan Lyon to give the hosts a late glimmer of hope but AB de Villiers (29) and Vernon Philander (one) ushered the tourists to safety at the close of play on 166 for 5.

The Australians may have come up short but they will take a great deal of confidence from their performance against the No.1 Test side in the world into the last two matches of the series in Adelaide and Perth.

"Our attitude was spot on today with the ball," said Clarke, who was named Man of the Match. "We were quite aggressive with our approach. I think we bowled a lot better today and we seemed to get better through this Test match. So there are a lot of positives come of this Test."

Clarke, who resumed on 218 with his team on 487 for 4, again sparkled with the bat in the morning sunshine, adding 41 runs to his personal tally and taking the record for the highest individual score at the Gabba.

To have any chance of the win was a remarkable turnaround for Australia, who were reeling at 40 for 3 when Clarke took the crease on Sunday afternoon.

"All in all, I think for me a draw was an even reflection on how the surface played," said South Africa captain Graeme Smith, who rued the day lost to rain when South Africa were in control. Having declared, James Pattinson, the pick of Australia's bowlers, gave them an early breakthrough by having opener Alviro Petersen caught behind by wicketkeeper Matthew Wade for five to leave South Africa on 6-1.

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