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South Africa on the verge of historic win

December 29, 2008 14:06 IST

A magnificent spell of fast bowling by Dale Steyn saw South Africa inch closer to a historic Test series victory in Australia after the fourth day of the second Test at the MCG in Melbourne on Monday.

Steyn claimed five for 67 to finish with ten wickets in the match following his five for 87 in the first innings. He had also played a vital role with the bat in the first innings -- smashing 76 to help South Africa stage a turnaround on day three.

Captain Ricky Ponting was the only man who offered resistance but he fell agonizingly short of his second century in the match when he was dismissed for 99. The rest of the batsmen failed to fire and only a late blitz from tailender Mitchell Johnson, who was left stranded on 43, helped Australia end up with a respectable 247 in their second innings.

Set a mediocre 183 to win the match and the three-Test series, South Africa raced to 30 for no loss in six overs. Graeme Smith came out firing as he smashed five boundaries in 19 deliveries to race to 25, while Neil McKenzie was unbeaten on 3.

South Africa need another 153 runs to register their first Test series win over Australia since being readmitted to the sport in 1991.

Steyn wrecked through the Australian top order when he claimed the wickets of openers Matthew Hayden and Simon Katich (15) in successive overs. Hayden's horror run with the bat continued when he hit one straight to JP Duminy in the covers for 23 and is likely to be axed for the next Test match.

Michael Hussey also endured another failured when he was caught by Hashim Amla off a sharp bouncer from Morne Morkel for 2. However, television replays showed that the ball missed his gloves and struck his helmet.

Steyn then jolted the hosts with a double blow getting the wickets of Michael Clarke and Andrew Symonds in a single over to reduce Australia to 145 for five.

Ponting, who made 101 in the first innings, seemed unfazed and continued in the same vein. While wickets fell at the other end, Ponting seemed in no trouble at all. He hit seven boundaries in 169 deliveries before being dismissed in the nervous nineties when he chipped Morkel straight to Graeme Smith at short cover.

Johnson tried to salvage the situation with a few boundaries but Steyn ended the innings when he claimed Peter Siddle for 6.

Australia face a near impossible task on the final day to maintain their impressive home record. They have never lost a home series for nearly 15 years now since losing to the West Indies in 1992-93.