Australia will have to produce the greatest run chase in Test history to beat South Africa in the third Test at the WACA Ground and claim the top spot in the Test rankings.
Set 632 to win after the Proteas were finally dismissed for 569 in their second innings on the back of Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers centuries, Australia were 40 without loss at stumps on the third day on Sunday. The Australians still need a further 592 runs in two days.
It was only the second time in Test history Australia had been set over 600 runs to win. The current record for a successful fourth innings run chase remains 418 by the West Indies against Australia at St John’s in 2003.
Amla led the way for the Proteas and looked certain to notch a third Test double century, but on 196 he fell to a superb reflex caught-and-bowled from Mitchell Johnson (4-110). His dismissal ended a 149-run partnership with de Villiers for the fourth wicket. It was Amla’s 18th Test century and he faced 221 balls, hitting 21 boundaries.
At one stage, retiring Australian batsman Ricky Ponting was even given a bowl as Amla and de Villiers took the game away.
De Villiers reached his 14th Test century in memorable fashion just before tea, audaciously reverse-sweeping spinner Nathan Lyon for three successive boundaries to reach the milestone.
He eventually fell for 169 as he appeared to tire, caught behind from the bowling of Mitchell Starc, having faced 184 balls, hitting 21 fours and three sixes.
South African Dean Elgar completed a nightmare Test debut, being trapped lbw by Johnson for a four-ball duck to complete a pair.
Brief Scores: SA 225 and 569 (H Amla 196, AB de Villiers 169, M Starc 6/154, M Johnson 4/110) vs Australia 163 and 40/0 (D Warner batting 29)