Aussies defy history

Australia has achieved the highest ever run chase at the SCG to notch a historic victory over South Africa in the third Test at the SCG, clinching the series 2-0.

Ricky Ponting (143 not out) was the man of the moment, helping the Aussies to 2-288 on the final day as he became the first cricketer to score two centuries in his 100th Test match.

Ponting and Matthew Hayden (90) put together a stunning 182-run partnership for the second wicket partnership that handed Australia what seemed to be an unlikely victory, heading into the fifth day.

When play resumed on Friday after a rain-interrupted fourth day, Jacques Kallis and Ashwell Prince advanced the Proteas from their overnight score of 3-94 before Prince (18) was caught by Ponting off the bowling of Stuart MacGill.

McGill sent Jacques Rudolph back to the pavilion two overs later after skying a catch to mid-off. He claimed his third wicket of the morning when he fizzed one past the approaching Mark Boucher to have him stumped by Adam Gilchrist for 11.

After the first session drinks break, Shaun Pollock (26 not out) came out swinging, and when Kallis brought up his half century, Graeme Smith declared the South African innings closed.

Set a target of 287 for victory, Australian openers Hayden and Justin Langer made a cautious start, intent on seeing off the new ball without losing a wicket.

In the ninth over Langer broke the shackles taking 14 runs off a Pollock over, before South Africa claimed the all-important breakthrough when Charl Langeveldt clean bowled Langer for 20.

After lunch, Hayden and Ponting went on the attack, producing more than 80 runs in the first ten overs, and there was no respite for the South African bowlers as the pair continued to dish out the punishment.

Hayden soon brought up his half century with a fine leg glance and five balls later Ponting mirrored that feat, bringing up his milestone off just 52 deliveries.

After the tea break, the duo continued to blaze away before the tourists finally found the breakthrough that they were looking for.

As Hayden tried to swing a Johan Botha delivery through mid-wicket, he found the edge of his bat and watched as the ball skied to Smith at point, the catch dismissing Hayden for 90 and ending his 182-run partnership with Ponting.

The moment of the match was still yet to come.

When Ponting punched a Botha delivery through cover for four, he brought up his match-winning century (from 111 balls), and the crowd erupted in applause for his special feat.

From that moment on the Australians were never troubled, with Ponting and Hodge (27 not out) guiding the team to a memorable victory.

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