Ed Cowan and Michael Clarke hit centuries as Australia reached 306-4 in reply to South Africa’s first-innings 450 in their opening cricket Test in Brisbane.
The pair, who came together with the home team struggling at 40-3 yesterday, just fell short of batting through the first two sessions on day four at the Gabba, where the entire second day’s play was rained out. Clarke was 126 not out at the tea interval with Mike Hussey on 1.
Cowan, whose highest score in 12 previous Test innings was 74, made 136 before he was run out shortly before the interval when bowler Dale Steyn finger-tipped a drive from Clarke onto the stumps with the opener out of his crease. Steyn earlier failed to take a catch off a Cowan top edge in the outfield when he was distracted by the nearby Jacques Rudolph.
Cowan shared a 259-run stand with Clarke, who brought up his 20th Test century with a scrambled single in the over before the afternoon drinks break.
South Africa would retain the No. 1 spot in the International Cricket Council’s Test rankings by avoiding defeat in the best-of-three contest. Australia, which is unbeaten at the Gabba in Test matches since 1988, can overtake the Proteas atop the rankings with a series victory.
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