Rudolf denies Australians

Australia has been denied victory in the first Test of their series with South Africa after a player who wasn’t even going to play in the match saved the game for the visitors.

Jacques Rudolph was the man of moment for the South Africans as they made it to 5/287 by stumps, hitting a patient hundred after only making it into the team when Jacques Kallis had to pull out before the game started.

The target Australia had set the Proteas of 491 was never threatened as the visitors began the day aiming merely to survive.

Nearly two years ago the Australian skipper Ricky Ponting criticised Brian Lara for chasing his personal milestone of 400 at the expense of a Test victory for the West Indies in Antigua, saying Australians didn’t put themselves before the team, but he was caught out today as yesterday’s decision to let Brad Hodge push for 200 allowed the South Africans a sniff of survival.

Having started the day at 2/85 though anything was possible and with Shane Warne in the team on a roughed up fifth day pitch, Ponting must have felt sure his team could take the eight wickets needed.

Instead they took just three, with two coming in the first session.

Hopes were raised when Herschelle Gibbs was caught edging Brett Lee to Shane Warne at first slip for 33 and then Warne trapped Ashwell Prince in front for just 8 to leave the visitors nervous at lunch with just six wickets in hand.

But the obdurate Rudolph and Justin Kemp then stood firm, passing the middle session of the day without falling and eventually adding 112 before Kemp was caught by Ponting off Warne for 55.

By then though the writing was on the wall, Ponting having used Symonds and even Brad Hodge to try and work a miracle, but Rudolph stood firm.

His hundred was brought up with just five overs left in the day and fittingly he was there at the end, unbeaten on 102 off 283 balls in an innings that lasted over seven hours.

A confidence boosting result for the Proteas, who know they can now match this Australian outfit and another eagerly anticipated clash awaits when the two teams start over again on Boxing Day in Melbourne.

Australia – 258
Ricky Ponting 71, Brad Hodge 41
Makhaya Ntini 5/64, Andre Nel 3/29

South Africa – 296
AB De Villiers 68, Mark Boucher 62
Brett Lee 5/93, Shane Warne 3/92

Australia – 8/528 dec.
Brad Hodge 203*, Michael Hussey 58
Charl Langeveldt 3/117, Shaun Pollock 2/98

South Africa – 5/287
Jacques Rudolph 102*, Justin Kemp 55
Shane Warne 3/83, Bracken 1/37

Match drawn
The 3 test series is tied at 0-0

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