Morne Morkel's stunning strikes and other talking points as South Africa inch towards victory in final Test against Australia

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Morkel picked up two early wickets for the hosts in his final Test innings.

South Africa took the penultimate step towards a first home-series win over Australia since 1970 after another fine all-round performance on the fourth day of the final Test.

The hosts had Australia at 88-3 in their improbable chase of 612 when bad light brought an early end to Monday’s play. South Africa had earlier declared at 344-6 after batting out two more session on day four.

Here, we look at the key talking points from the fourth day’s play in Johannesburg.

DEAN ELGAR’S VIGIL

Australia must be sick of the sight of Dean Elgar by now. After carrying his bat in the third Test, Elgar showed why he is considered to be one of the toughest batsmen in red-ball cricket.

The South African opener continued from where he left off on Sunday , going into preservation mode as he looked to bock everything. He scored his first run on Monday in the 65th delivery of the day. By the time he brought up his half-century, Elgar had faced 199 deliveries.

He broke the shackles somewhat after reaching fifty but was stopped 19 runs short of another Test ton by Nathan Lyon. Elgar’s 81 runs came off 250 deliveries at a strike-rate of 32.40. By the time he was dismissed, number five batsman Faf du Plessis had arrived to the crease, registered a ton and returned to the pavilion.

DU PLESSIS ENDS WITH A HIGH AFTER HORRID RUN

It has not been the best of series personally for the South Africa skipper whose highest score in the previous six innings coming into the final Test was just 20 runs.

Du Plessis made sure to end on a high though, albeit when his team was already in a commanding position. After seeing out the last few overs on Sunday evening, the right-hander started fluently on day four. While Elgar continued his ‘blockathon’ at the other end, Du Plessis seized the initiative.

He struck 18 boundaries and two sixes as he brought up his eight Test century. Forming a 170-run stand for the fourth wicket with Elgar, the Proteas skipper eventually departed to a standing ovation for a fine 120 off just 178 deliveries.

INJURY TROUBLES FOR PROTEAS BOWLING UNIT

After Morne Morkel had broken down mid-over on the third day of his final match for South Africa, the hosts were given another scare on Monday morning with injury troubles for both Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander.

Rabada had a reported stiff back while Philander had groin issues which was being managed throughout the Test. Morkel’s injury had probably played a part in Du Plessis not opting to enforce the follow-on on the third day after attaining a 267-run first-innings lead. The fresh injury blows might explain why the hosts batted on Monday despite amassing a gigantic lead.

Luckily for the hosts, the trio was fit enough to bowl when the Australian second-innings began in the final session of the day.

MORKEL DELIGHTS IN FINAL TEST INNINGS

When he broke down with a side-strain on the third day, it looked like the end of Morkel’s international career. The 33-year-old wasn’t going to give up without a fight though. He was seen trying to bowl in the nets on Sunday in a desperate attempt and it seemed to have paid off when he took the field at the start of the final session.

The tall pacer quickly got into the groove upon being given the ball and got South Africa’s first breakthrough by trapping Matt Renshaw plumb in front of the wickets with a sharp in-swinger. He wasn’t just done and repeated the same mode of dismissal to send back the well-set Joe Burns.

The delight on Morkel’s face was clear to see . Come Tuesday, he will still have a big part to play in his final Test innings as he looks to sign off in style.

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