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Clarke battles, South Africa rule

Michael Clarke survived two dropped chances to score an unbeaten 73 to keep Australia afloat on the first day of the third and final Test against South Africa at the SCG.

cricket Updated: Jan 04, 2009 01:37 IST

Michael Clarke survived two dropped chances to score an unbeaten 73 to keep Australia afloat on the first day of the third and final Test against South Africa at the SCG on Saturday as the hosts, desperate to avoid their first ever series whitewash on home soil, finished the day on 267-6 after another attritional day's cricket.

South Africa's bowlers suffered a New Year's hangover for the first hour in which they lacked the discipline which has brought them all 40 available wickets in the first two Tests and Simon Katich led the way in a threatening opening stand of 62 with struggling partner Matthew Hayden.

Evidence that Hayden, 37, is suffering something considerably more terminal than a loss of form was there for all to see as the trademark, booming cover drives failed to connect and the ball beat the bat more than it should have on a slow pitch. He was eventually bowled off the inside edge by Dale Steyn for a highly unconvincing 31 which elicited the same, sympathetic round of applause from the SCG crowd as the MCG had awarded him a week ago.

Ricky Ponting was gone before the crowd had recovered from Hayden's departure, inside edging his first delivery to Mark Boucher.