A defiant half-century by evergreen Mike Hussey has helped steer Australia to a powerful position at lunch on day four of the second Test against South Africa at Adelaide Oval.
Hussey was dismissed for 54 in the last over of the morning session but not before guiding the hosts to 7-206 and a strong lead of 368 after they had resumed at a shaky 5-111 at the start of the day.
The Proteas toiled admirably but the Aussies stood firm, particularly in the first hour of play when in-form overnight batsmen Hussey and Michael Clarke, playing few false strokes, safely negotiated the stern tests put to them by Morne Morkel and Rory Kleinveldt.
The red-hot pair have given the Proteas' bowlers nightmares throughout the series, having compiled partnerships of 228 in Brisbane and 272 in the first innings here, and looked set for another big day in the middle.
Hussey was the aggressor early, thumping hapless wrist spinner Imran Tahir's second ball of the day - an amateurish waist-high full-toss - for four on one knee.
Clarke, who belted a thrilling 230 in the first dig, also took a liking to Imran's licorice all-sorts, smashing the down-on-confidence leggie's third over of the morning for 13, including a flicked full toss through midwicket for four and a heaved flat six over square leg.
The duo's 70-run union ended the first ball of the next over when Clarke was sent packing for 38, adjudged lbw after being rapped on the knee roll by Dale Steyn.
The Aussie skipper called for a video review after conferring with Hussey, but television replays showed the ball would have clipped the top of leg stump and umpire Billy Bowden's original verdict stood.
The South Africans lost a challenge three overs later after Matthew Wade (six) was given not out following a confident leg before appeal four balls into Kleinveldt's second spell of the day.
Proteas captain Graeme Smith called for a review but Wade was reprieved with replays confirming the ball would have gone comfortably over the stumps.
Meanwhile, Hussey continued to look as solid as ever, bringing up his 29th half-century off 81 balls when he slapped a short Kleinveldt delivery through the covers for a boundary.
Hussey was sent packing in the final over of the session when Morkel, bowling around the wicket, hurried the in-form veteran into a pull shot, which hit high on the splice, spooned up and was comfortably pouched by Steyn at mid on.
Hobbling paceman James Pattinson, battling a left side strain injury which restricted him to just 9.1 overs in South Africa's innings, joined Wade out in the middle, the pair looking to extend the home side's lead past the 400-mark.The Proteas have been playing catch-up for the majority of the Test after being knocked over for 388 in reply to Australia's mammoth first-innings 550.
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