Australians in South Africa 2014: 3rd Test Day 2 … Rain, rain go away

The second day of the third test match was drowned out from the middle of the second session with Australia in a dominant position at 7/494.

Before the rain came it was the Michael Clarke show as the captain of Australia went on to his 27th test match century.  Clarke has commented over night that this may well be the best hundred of his career but only if Australia win.

The fact is though: if this is not Michael Clarke’s best hundred then it is certainly his most courageous.  After surviving the day 1 onslaught from the South African bowlers and the agony of 24 balls on 99, getting to three figures must have been massively satisfying for him.  Now 161 not out overnight, he has the chance of pressing on to 200 at the start of day 3.

In the shadows of Michael Clarke’s epic innings was the batting of Steve Smith.  His 84 here was replete with some spectacular shots, none more so than depositing Morne Morkel back over his head for 6.  From a career in test cricket that seemed resigned to be a footnote in the anals of cricket history, Smith has become in less than 12 months a key member of this Australian team.

Looking forward to day 3, I would be astonised if Michael Clarke did not declare overnight.  He is nothing if not an aggressive captain and if Australia is to have any chance of getting 20 wickets one has to think Australia has to have South Africa 7 or 8 wickets down by stumps today.

What will not help Australia’s drive for victory is the pitch.  I have had many readers try to convince me that the pitch will break up and suit Australia’s spinner.  If that was correct before the rain, it stirkes me that the rain will have freshened up the pitch which will only make it less likely to break up over the remainder of the test match.

The weather may also have a part to play in the course of play on day 3.  The South African Weather Service predicts a mostly fine day for day 3 with a 30% chance of rain.  If that rain does arrive, every minute lost will reduce the probability of an Australian victory.

I will repeat what I said at lunch on Day 1 on twitter: this game will be a draw.  A freshened pitch with some rain around does not bode well for a result.  If there is to be a winner there is only one team it could be: Australia.

Play will be extended by an hour each day to make up for day 2’s lost time so the first ball will bowled at 5:30pm Brisbane time.

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