x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Australia pick up consolation win

Australia win the third and final Test match at the SCG to retain their position at the top of the ICC world rankings.

SYDNEY // Australia salvaged a consolation win against South Africa after dismissing the tourists with only 10 balls remaining on the final day to clinch a 103-run victory in the third Test at the SCG. Chasing an unlikely 376 to win, the tourists seemed set for a heavy defeat until a 50-run ninth-wicket stand between Dale Steyn and Makhaya Ntini lifted the side and prompted the captain to walk into bat despite a fractured finger. The courageous Smith, who came in at 11 with a broken finger on his left hand and troublesome elbow, and Ntini (28) held Australia up for 29 minutes and appeared likely to draw the match and deny some points in the rankings. But Mitchell Johnson bowled Smith as the Proteas were dismissed for 272. Australia lost the series 2-1 but remained ahead of South Africa by only five ranking points. "I didn't really expect to go out. Deep inside I didn't really want to get out there," Smith admitted. "I arrived here without any kit and had some pants I'd shoved into my cricket bag to protect my bats. "I stole a shirt off Jacques [Kallis] and a pullover off Harry [Paul Harris]. I had Morne [Morkel] dressing me and putting my shoes on and pads. "I decided I was going to give it a go and give it my best shot and if I got a first-baller or whatever at least I tried." South Africa needed a further 314 runs on the final day to pull off an improbable win. But any hope of a victory disappeared when the tourists lost Neil McKenzie (27), Kallis (four) and Hashim Amla (59) in the opening session. At 190-7, the home side appeared to be coasting to a comfortable victory, but Steyn and Ntini had other ideas, ensuring a tremendous series finished on an appropriately dramatic note. As South Africa inched closer to pulling off a draw, McDonald trapped Steyn lbw for 28. That opened the way for Smith to make his entry with 7.2 overs left - to a standing ovation from the SCG crowd. Siddle, with match figures of 8-113, was named man-of- the-match with Smith awarded the man-of-the-series trophy. The Australian captain Ricky Ponting said his team deserved to win. "It says a lot about the character of the side to get back up off the canvas and put up a performance like we have this week." He also defended his side's performance throughout the opening two Tests of a memorable series. "We haven't been that far away, it could have easily been a 2-1 result our way as well," he said. * PA Sport