Aussie tail wags

South Africa will carry a 96-run lead into the fourth day of the third Test against Australia at the SCG, after dismissing the hosts for 359 in their first innings.

The Proteas had reduced Australia to 7-226 shortly before tea, but some heavy hitting from Adam Gilchrist (86) and Stuart MacGill (29) ensured the tourists' first innings lead was kept below 100, before Brett Lee trapped A.B. De Villiers for one off the last ball of the day to leave them 1-4 at stumps.

Steady morning drizzle delayed the start of the day's play but when it stopped, Ricky Ponting got off to a flying start, pulling and driving exquisitely to keep the scoreboard ticking along.

Together with Michael Hussey, the pair guided Australia to the drinks break at 3-92, and in the over after drinks, Ponting hooked Charl Langeveldt for six and drove down the ground for three to bring up the Australian 100.

It wasn't until the sixth over after lunch that Ponting and Hussey recaptured their morning aggression, with 10 runs coming off an Andre Nel over.

Both batsmen took to debutant off-spinner Johan Botha, who went for 10 runs in his first over, but South Africa grabbed the much needed breakthrough when Botha had Hussey poking at a ball to be caught behind for 45.

Andrew Symonds then joined Ponting at the crease and the pair steadied the ship, the skipper notching up a well-deserved century.Gallery

The pair kept the score ticking over before Jacques Kallis had Ponting trapped in front, bringing his wonderful innings to a close on 120.

Ponting's dismissal led to an Australian batting collapse, with Symonds (12) trapped in front and Shane Warne caught behind the next ball, leaving Nel on a hat-trick, as Australia went to the tea break at 7-226.

Soon after tea, Lee (17) gloved a rising delivery from Kallis (2-25) to Graeme Smith at first slip.

MacGill and Gilchrist then took it right up to the Proteas attack as Australia raced past the 300-run mark.

Back-to-back boundaries for Gilchrist saw him bring up not only his half-century but also his 50-run partnership with MacGill, who later took to the bowling of Shaun Pollock.

After MacGill, on 29, skied a ball to Nel at mid-off, Gilchrist, with Glenn McGrath striding to the crease, made up his mind that it was time to up the ante.

The pair put on 37 before Nel (4-81) finally dismissed Gilchrist for a swashbuckling 86 to give the Proteas a 92-run first innings lead.

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