Johannesburg: Championed by the indomitable Dale Steyn, South Africa rumbled back into contention with a flurry of wickets to ensure Australia undid a dominant morning with a desperately poor afternoon. Having blazed to 169 for 0 at lunch, Australia slid to 296 all out after tea, a lead of 30 counterbalanced by the fact that a deteriorating pitch will make the fourth innings difficult. Graeme Smith survived four balls before bad light ended play.
South Africa, as strong sides tend to do, redoubled their efforts after a poor start to the day, and as in Cape Town, where they were razed for 47 in the second innings, Australia were unable to lift themselves accordingly. The hosts' resurgence was epitomised by Dale Steyn, who compensated for a dip in pace by swerving the older ball deviously, and Imran Tahir, innocuous against Watson and Hughes but mightily effective against a supine lower order.
Phillip Hughes and Shane Watson can be proud of a stand of 174, but at least one had to go on to a match-shaping score. Ricky Ponting's exit, lbw again, will seriously threaten his place in the team, as will another inconsequential score for Brad Haddin.