Brisbane: South Africa batted through the last two sessions to ensure a draw on Tuesday after Australia skipper Michael Clarke scored an unbeaten 259 and then declared with a 115-run lead as he pushed for a win in the first Test.
Graeme Smith's top-ranked South Africans had been in a dominant position late Sunday, posting 450 on either side of a washed out second day before having Australia in deep trouble at 40 for 3. But the match turned on Clarke's bat — his third 200-plus innings in seven tests in 2012 — and his partnerships of 259 with Ed Cowan (136) and Mike Hussey (100).
After resuming on the last day at 487 for 4, Clarke declared at 565 for 5 an hour before lunch, setting up an intriguing last five hours. In the end, South Africa finished at 166 for 5 with AB de Villiers unbeaten on 29 and ushering them to safety after the departures of Alviro Petersen (5), Graeme Smith (23), Hashim Amla (38), Jacques Kallis (49) and Jacques Rudolph (11).
A pitch that had been expected to fuel a fast and furious battle between two pace attacks didn't generate much bounce or movement off the seam, with batsmen dominating on a benign surface for most of the Test match. Five batsmen scored centuries, with Clarke and Cowan combining well under pressure and Hussey coming in late to lift the run-rate for Australia after Kallis (147) and Amla (104) joined forces to get the South Africans away to a decent start.
The draw meant Australia continued an unbeaten streak at the Gabba that dates back to 1988 and gives Clarke's team momentum going to Adelaide next week. "It was unfortunate not to get a result today," Clarke said, but "We can take a lot of confidence into the second Test."
Australia's James Pattinson finished with five wickets in the match and was backed up by Peter Siddle, who created chances in each innings. The highly-rated South African pace attack was unusually lacking in penetration, with Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander — the top two ranked bowlers in Test cricket — finishing with one wicket between them and conceding a combined 234 runs from 60 overs.
The bowlers didn't get much help from technology, either, with three dismissals denied when the third umpire was called on to scrutinize replays and ruled no ball for overstepping. Pattinson bowled Amla on 7 but replays showed the 22-year-old Australian quick had overstepped the crease. Kallis had a reprieve in the first innings when Siddle was adjudged to have overstepped and Morne Morkel missed out on a legside caught behind against Cowan for the same reason late on Sunday.