Australia has fallen short in its bid to pull off a clean sweep of South Africa, with the Proteas hanging on to draw the rain-soaked third Test at the SCG.
Bowled out for 255 in its first innings and asked to follow on, South Africa survived 41.5 overs to be 2-106 when the game was called with 5.1 overs left.
But the final session was not without controversy, with Heinrich Klaasen surviving an lbw decision on umpire’s call and a claimed catch at slip in the same Nathan Lyon over.
After Steve Smith appealed that had taken the catch cleanly, third umpire Richard Kettleborough ruled for the third time in the match that the ball brushed the grass on reaching a fielder.
Klaasen was later bowled by Josh Hazlewood on 35, before Sarel Erwee (42) and Temba Bavuma (17) carried South Africa to the close unbeaten.
The result left Australia as 2-0 series victors, but without guaranteed qualification in the World Test Championship final before next month’s tour of India.
There, it will need to win or draw one of the four Tests in order to reach the final, or hope New Zealand does not lose both its home Tests against Sri Lanka in March.
Australia had entered day five needing 14 wickets to win, before the Proteas produced their first real resistance of the summer following defeats in Brisbane and Melbourne.
Lower-order batters Simon Harmer and Keshav Maharaj offered the most fight, as they helped the tourists navigate through the first session of Sunday for the loss of one wicket.
And while Hazlewood (4-48) removed them both after lunch, South Africa’s top order performed much stronger in their second innings.
Pat Cummins briefly opened the door when Dean Elgar was caught behind down legside for the fourth time this series on 10, capping a horror tour as captain.
But aside from when Hazlewood removed Klaasen after tea, the tourists were resolute in defence.
“Fourteen wickets was a hard ask,” Hazlewood said.
“If we didn’t lose any to rain, who knows what may have been.
“It would have been nice to have seen the wicket after five days of traffic on it and seen how that would have played, whether it was back to the old school SCG, but it was good fun today.”
Australia had three lbw reviews go against it on the basis of umpire’s call on the final day, but also had themselves to blame.
Four chances were put down, with Marnus Labuschagne, Alex Carey, Travis Head and Ashton Agar dropping catches.
Also notable was that Ashton Agar went wicketless in his return Test, after selectors opted to pick him as a second spinner ahead of Scott Boland as third quick.
Sydney’s rain also hurt Agar, with the pitch not breaking up as Australia expected.
Ultimately, the weather meant Australia’s first innings 4-475 went to waste after Cummins declared on Usman Khawaja midway through day four, leaving the opener unbeaten on 195.
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