Injury-stricken Paine hails battling Australia

The captain praises the fight shown by his team despite being “long way behind in the game.”

Tim Paine scored a defiant half-century to keep Australia hanging in.   -  Getty Images

Australian captain Tim Paine praised the fight shown by his team after it had the better of the third day of the fourth Test at the Wanderers Stadium on Sunday, helped by his 62 despite batting with a broken thumb. Australia is still in a desperate situation, with South Africa going into the fourth day leading by 401 runs with seven wickets in hand.

“We're a long way behind the game, there's no doubt that, but I'm happy with the spirit and the fight with the bat and the discipline our bowlers showed,” said Paine.

Appointed following the ball-tampering scandal which led to Steve Smith being banned, new captain Paine set the example in the morning. Despite batting with a hairline fracture of his right thumb, he made a defiant half-century before being last man out.

Injury ‘not too bad’

Paine sustained his thumb injury while keeping wicket on Saturday. “It's okay,” he said. “It's got a little crack in it. It hurts a little bit but I've had my fair share of finger injuries and compared to a couple of others it’s not too bad.”

South Africa did not enforce the follow-on, with doubts about the ability of Morkel to bowl because of a side strain.

Australia's bowlers then restricted the host to a run rate of 2.4 in the second innings as South Africa laboured to 134 for three at the close. “We were very disappointed with the way things went yesterday (Saturday),” said Paine, who revealed that the players had spoken about it after play and had resolved to respond positively. “We didn't get the wickets we perhaps deserved but I was really proud of the way the bowlers stuck at it, the same with our fielding group,” said Paine. “I thought our energy right through the innings was excellent.”

Cummins shows all-round ability

A day after taking a five-wicket haul, Pat Cummins impressed with the bat, too; he put on 99 for the seventh wicket with Paine. “We all know how good Pat is as an all-round cricketer,” said Paine. “This tour he has been superb, he was fantastic in the Ashes as well.”

Read: Passport gaffe delays D'Arcy Short's arrival

South Africa’s Keshav Maharaj said he thought Morkel would be fit but acknowledged that he could have to bowl a large number of overs in the second innings to support fast men Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada.

Maharaj noted the bounce and turn achieved by Australian off-spinner Nathan Lyon, who beat the bat frequently on Sunday afternoon. “There will be a lot of emphasis on the spin but I actually think it is turning and bouncing too much to find an edge,” he said.

For more updates, follow Sportstar on :