Australia keep hope for wet SCG victory

Australia maintain they can still claim a series sweep over South Africa despite day three of the third Test being completely washed away by rain in Sydney.

After 57 overs were lost to bad weather across the opening two days, the city's big wet dampened Australia's chances further on Friday with six hours of persistent rain.

It left Australia in limbo at 4-475 in their first innings, with Usman Khawaja unbeaten on 195 and nearing a maiden Test double century.

Khawaja revealed on Friday evening the most likely scenario remained Australia batting on into day four, when better weather is forecast.

That would allow a higher follow-on target for South Africa to be set, before the hosts declare and attempt to take 20 wickets to win the Test.

"A result is very unlikely, let's be honest. But it is still possible," Khawaja said.

"We will try and do the best we can in these circumstances.

"It's definitely (still worth batting on), 100 per cent.

"Time is the enemy at this stage. You have to decide on how you are going to use time as best we can."

Australia need a victory in Sydney to guarantee a spot in June's World Test Championship final, or else risk needing to win a Test in India to qualify.

Their best chance of clinching the match remains bowling South Africa out for a deficit of more than 200, enforcing the follow-on and dismissing the out-of-form tourists again.

Captain Pat Cummins said earlier this summer the follow-on was close to dead in Test cricket, unless rare circumstances prevailed.

The Sydney match could fit that bill given the weather, no Test immediately following it and spinners set to shoulder the majority of the workload.

The big wet has raised further questions over the timing of the annual Sydney Test.

Friday's abandonment marked the 26th day completely washed out in the SCG's Test history, far more than any other venue in Australia.

Six of the past seven Tests have been impacted by rain, while poor light has also become an issue in recent years.

So renowned has the match become for rain in recent years, this year's Test has included sponsors' logos on the covers.

January is historically a wetter month in Sydney than November and December, but Cricket Australia officials have indicated moving the Test is not on the cards.

Khawaja agreed, arguing a move would not necessarily avoid the wet weather.

"I am all for change but I do like tradition. And (the) Boxing Day (Test) and (then) Sydney has always been the tradition in my mind," he said.

"The week before this, it wasn't raining at all. It's pretty unlucky we got rain this specific week.

"I have played a lot of games in Sydney that have had results, even with weather.

"We are in a La Nina period anyway at the moment where it rains more, and hopefully that is coming to an end soon."