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Clarke rains on Proteas' parade


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Heavy rain has halted Australia’s momentum in the Test series decider, something South Africa proved incapable of doing as Michael Clarke piled on runs.

Clarke reached 161 not out when heavy rain forced the players off the field at 2.14pm local time on day two, with the visitors in complete control at 7-494 in Cape Town.

The heavy covers proved difficult to batten down at windswept Newlands on Sunday, but once the truck tyres were in place they remained there until play was abandoned at 4.20pm.

It is near impossible to see the Proteas battling back to level footing in this contest, especially with Dale Steyn nursing a hamstring strain and not expected to bowl again in the match.

But the weather has added a degree of complexity to a match Australia must win if they’re to post a first Test series win on foreign soil since April, 2012.

Shane Watson (40), Brad Haddin (13) and Mitchell Johnson (duck) all departed in the hour that followed lunch on Sunday as the visitors searched for quick runs.

Clarke has had Test innings of more runs, but arguably none of greater importance.

The stoic skipper passed 150 for the 10th time in his Test career, while a 27th Test ton means Clarke joins former captain Allan Border in joint fifth place on the all-time list of Australian century makers.

Australia resumed on 3-331 with Clarke on 92.

The 32-year-old donned a bandaged arm and borrowed arm guard after copping a series of blows from Morne Morkel in a brutal short-pitched assault on day one.

It proved a nervous 47-minute wait for Clarke’s hundred, and he faced 25 balls as eight overs ticked past while he was on 99.

During that period Steve Smith (84) was nearly run out and Clarke left a series of deliveries that went within millimetres of hitting the stumps.

But he finally brought up the century with a cover drive off Vernon Philander that sent the ball whistling to the rope.

The rain was welcome respite for the hosts’ weary attack, with Philander, Morkel and Kyle Abbott having bowled a combined 78.3 overs in the absence of Steyn.

None of them trigger trepidation like Steyn, and none have made a breakthrough since Steyn went off the park in the 40th over on Saturday.

Part-time spinners Dean Elgar (1-99) and JP Duminy (4-73) have taken the five wickets since Philander removed Alex Doolan on Saturday to reduce Australia to 2-138.

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