Rain hits South African hopes

Sydney, January 5:

Rain hit South Africa’s hopes of squaring their series with Australia after only 20 overs of play was possible on the fourth day of the third Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday. The Proteas, who lost last week’s second Test by 184 runs after the first match was drawn, advanced from an overnight four for one to 94 for three when rain washed out play after tea.

South Africa have only a 186-run lead heading into Friday’s fifth day and more showers are forecast, almost certainly condemning the match to a draw. In that eventuality, Australia will win the home series and renew Test hostilities in South Africa in another series next month.

When play was abandoned for the day first-innings centurions Jacques Kallis (14) and Ashwell Prince (0) were at the wicket.

The Proteas lost the wickets of skipper Graeme Smith and Herschelle Gibbs on Thursday. Gibbs threw away his wicket when he was run out for 67 in a mix-up with Kallis over a quick single. He was beaten back to the non-striker’s end by a direct throw from Brad Hodge.

Gibbs had boosted the Proteas’ run-rate — striking 11 boundaries in his lively 74-ball knock. Shortly afterwards rain sent the players from the field for an early tea and there was no further play.

Meanwhile, McGrath was later given an official reprimand after being reported by the match umpires for “using language that is obscene, offensive or insulting and/or the making of an obscene gesture,” under the ICC code of conduct.

McGrath is the second Australian player to be reported during the Test, with fellow fast bowler Brett Lee also officially reprimanded on Tuesday after being found guilty of showing dissent while bowling in South Africa’s first innings.