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Wobbly South Africa salvaged a draw in Sydney

Sarel Erwee, Heinrich Klaasen, and Temba Bavuma played out the final session on Day 5 in Sydney to secure a draw and keep South Africa’s hopes of making the WTC final alive.

Keshav Maharaj and Simon Harmer, South Africa’s eighth-wicket pair in the first innings, sowed the seeds of the final result, and Australia went into the final day hoping to complete a series sweep by taking 14 South African wickets. However, Australia was unable to do so because of its strong resistance.

The home team had high hopes for a heist on the final day against a fragile South African batting lineup thanks to the ferocious performance of Pat Cummins on Day 4.

They had a strong start to Day 5 on a sunny day, but two frustrating stands ended their momentum. To begin, the overnight batters Simon Harmer and Marco Jansen pitched 14.3 innings.

They didn’t move the scoreboard much, but they crucially ate into Australia’s remaining overs. With Jansen’s wicket, Travis Head eventually made the cut, but that didn’t yield any additional immediate benefits. Instead, Maharaj joined Harmer to push South Africa’s tenacity to new heights, and he scored quickly.

Maharaj scored a fifty and added 85 runs with Harmer to make the eighth wicket, but the story quickly changed after lunch. South Africa’s innings were concluded by Nathan Lyon and Josh Hazlewood, and Cummins enforced the follow-on.

Dean Elgar had already been dismissed in the second innings when they broke for the Tea break. Once more, he was strangled down the leg side and had to edge the keeper, reviving Australia’s hopes of winning the final session sprint. But that didn’t happen.

Australia’s frustration in the final session was similar to Lyon’s. He thought he had Heinrich Klaasen out twice, but the umpire called for the South African batter to be saved by a whisker. First, Klaasen was hit on the pad while stuck inside the crease on the backfoot, making an lbw call appear perfectly level.

Australia was forced to take the review because the appeal was denied by the on-field umpire. The TV umpire was unable to overturn it because the impact of the ball striking the pad was the umpire’s call, much to their dismay.

Steve Smith made a low catch after Klaasen missed a chance to slip in the same over. At least that’s what he and Australia thought until the TV umpire reversed the score.

The TV umpire ruled it not out with the explanation that Smith’s fingers under the ball were split and it appeared as though the ball had touched the ground, despite the limited angles available to check the replay. The on-field umpire sent it for a check with a soft signal of out.

It was a big decision because the replays had to be clear for the TV umpire to change it, but he decided in favor of the batter, just like he had done twice before in this match. Lyon, helpless, could only shake his head in despair. Hazlewood then cleaned Klaasen up with a good length pitch that got close to the right-hander and got in through the gap between the bat and the pad.

Australia had glimmering hopes of a miraculous victory, but Erwee’s unbeaten 42 off 125 balls and Bavuma’s 42 for 17 off 42 balls completely wiped them out. After 15 overs of batting, Cummins made the decision to shake hands with the opposition and settle for a draw with five overs left in the day.

Brief Ratings: South Africa 106/2 (f/o) with Sarel Erwee scoring 42 and Heinrich Klaasen scoring 35; Keshav Maharaj, who is 53, and Simon Harmer, who is 47; Pat Cummins (3-60), Josh Hazlewood (4-48), and Australia (475/4 decl.) Steve Smith 104, Steve Khawaja 195*; 2-55 Anrich Nortje).

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