Battered, bruised Proteas defend ranking in Perth


After batsmen ruled the first two tests, fast bowling could be the decisive factor when Australia and South Africa re-engage their heavyweight tussle for the number one test ranking in the final match of the series on Friday.
A defiant rearguard action from the tourists in Adelaide on Monday denied Australia captain Michael Clarke the victory his sublime batting probably deserved and meant the series would go into the third contest in Perth all square.
While Australia need a victory at the WACA to return to the number one spot after a gap of more than three years, a third draw would keep South Africa as the world’s top side in the longest form of the game.
“Both teams will be pretty battered and bruised (but) we’re level pegging going into Perth,” South Africa skipper Graeme Smith, whose team are unbeaten in a test series on the road since 2006, said on Monday.
“For us, that is great … We wanted to go to Perth in that position and give ourselves a chance of winning a series in Australia again, and we have that opportunity.”
Smith will be hoping that paceman Vernon Philander is fit to rejoin his strike bowling unit after a lower back injury ruled him out of the second test.
After a sensational introduction to test cricket, Philander failed to take a wicket for the first time in the drawn series-opener in Brisbane.
His return would, however, allow South Africa to select a four-pronged pace attack with Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Rory Kleinveldt all looking to fire on what is expected to be a lively track.
Jacques Kallis might not be able to back up the much-vaunted, but so far disappointing, bowling attack after injuring his hamstring in Adelaide but the all-rounder should retain his place in the side as a batsman.