De Villiers masterclass has Australia playing catch-up in second Test

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De Villiers masterclass has Australia playing catch-up in second Test

South Africa lost just one wicket in the first session, nightwatchman Kagiso Rabada for 29, and no wickets in the second session, before the late surge from the Aussie quicks.

Usman Khawaja scored 75 to lead an Australia fightback on the third day of the second Test against South Africa at St. George's Park, but succumbed just before close of play after seeing the tourists cancel out a first innings deficit.

That saw them lose momentum somewhat, with Australia's bowlers able to chip away at the top order, especially when the ball began to reverse swing after the 50th over.

It was the kind of intriguing battle out in the middle that observers hoped for from this four-test contest before it was given a bitter taste that still lingers by an off-field confrontation between Australia's David Warner and South Africa's Quinton de Kock in the first test.

Khawaja almost saw out the day, while Mitchell Marsh also fought bravely to make 39 not out while still recovering from a stomach bug he had on the first day of the game.

Sunday began with AB de Villiers making a 22nd test century, with his 126 not out helping South Africa to 382 all out and a 139-run first-innings lead. Only Shane Bond has a better Test strike-rate in the last 100 years of Test cricket, and Rabada already has 45 more wickets than the New Zealander managed in his entire career.

Having most likely copped all kinds of abuse from the Australians during his near four-hour stint at the crease, one retort from de Kock was enough for Warner and his teammates to insist that the little wicketkeeper had "crossed the line".

The Warner send-off was nearly identical to the one Smith received, but this time the Proteas paceman avoided brushing Warner after screaming in his face.

South Africa have been here before with Rabada - particularly after they lost him for a Test in England previous year.

Match referee Jeff Crowe is expected to throw the book at South Africa spearhead Kagiso Rabada, who has disobeyed umpires' advice and unleashed yet another screaming send-off in the second Test.

"Well it'll be handy for us not to have to face him, that's for sure", said Australia assistant coach David Saker.

South Africa's best batsman set up the winning position.

De Villiers also passed 8,500 test runs during the innings, the fourth South African after Jacques Kallis, Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla to do that.

Two deliveries later, de Villiers hit a boundary to complete his century off just 117 deliveries but the counterattack came from Keshav Maharaj (30) as he smashed three boundaries and two sixes in his 24-ball knock.

"I was so relieved, I was very nervous in the 90s".

He told batting partner Vernon Philander that he was struggling to breathe and that his legs felt numb.

The Proteas will resume at 7-263 on Sunday morning in Port Elizabeth, with de Villiers unbeaten on 74.

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