Bancroft fifty helps Australia extend lead

Australia 351 and 112 for 3 (Smith 16*, Marsh 4*) lead South Africa 162 by 301 runs
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Cameron Bancroft scored the second half-century of his short Test career as Australia extended their lead past 300 on the third day against South Africa at Kingsmead. However, Bancroft was unable to build on his solid start and was out for 53 in the final over before lunch, leaving Steven Smith at the crease on 16 alongside Shaun Marsh, who was on 4. Australia had moved their total along to 112 for 3, which meant a 301-run advantage.

Under some pressure to justify his selection for this tour ahead of Matt Renshaw, Bancroft played impressively in the second innings, using his feet against the spin of Keshav Maharaj and striking 10 fours. However, it was precisely that willingness to come out of his crease that brought about his undoing, when he failed to reach the pitch of a Maharaj delivery that turned past his edge and allowed an easy stumping for Quinton de Kock.

Bancroft and David Warner had started the innings with a solid 56-run partnership, which was their fourth half-century stand from 10 innings opening together since Bancroft’s debut in the first Ashes Test of the summer. However, on 28, Warner threw his innings away by trying to pull Kagiso Rabada and succeeding only in lobbing a catch to the substitute fieldsman Willem Mulder at mid-on.

Usman Khawaja joined Bancroft but completed a disappointing Test personally when he tried to reverse-sweep Maharaj and a catch popped up off his glove to de Kock, ending his innings on 6. However, despite the fact that South Africa took three wickets in the session, Australia’s burgeoning lead meant it was still difficult to see a way for the home side to get back into the contest, short of a complete annihilation of Australia’s middle and lower order in the next session.

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