Aussies all but home

South Africa is staring down the barrel of defeat after Australia ripped through its batting order to have the Proteas 99-6 at stumps on the fourth day of the second Test at the MCG.

Set a target of 366 to win, the South African openers survived a tricky 40-minute session before tea, but the tourists lost five wickets after the break and now face a near-impossible task to avoid the loss.

Shane Warne (3-43) got the ball rolling when he had AB de Villiers stumped for eight and the wickets fell at regular intervals after that, with Warne's third coming from a spectacular diving catch by Ricky Ponting at silly mid-off that dismissed Mark Boucher (5).

Andrew Symonds continued to enjoy a resurgence in form - taking the wickets of Jacques Kallis (caught behind for nine) and Jacques Rudolph (bowled for four) - to finish with figures of 2-6 from four overs.

Ashwell Prince (16) and Shaun Pollock (13) are the not out batsmen overnight.

Ponting declared at 321-7 after a blazing 124-run partnership between Matthew Hayden and Symonds off 93 balls moved the hosts into a commanding position in the middle session.

Australia's intention to boost the run rate and set the scene for a declaration was clear after lunch as Hayden opened his shoulders and quickly reached his 25th Test century.

Symonds joined him at the crease after the dismissal of Michael Hussey for 31 and approached his innings as if it were a one-day knock - unleashing an awesome array of firepower with five fours and six towering sixes on his way to 72 off 54 balls.

Ponting's orders were obvious as the two dispatched the South African bowling to all areas of the ground and Hayden was eventually out for 137 after he skied a pull shot off the bowling of Kallis that keeper Boucher made good ground to glove.

His dismissal was the first of three wickets to fall in just four deliveries as Symonds and then Adam Gilchrist (first-ball duck) were caught in the outfield trying to boost the Australian score.

The Australians started the day at 110-2 and scored 82 runs for the loss of Brad Hodge (24) in the morning session, going to lunch at 192-3, before adding 129 runs for the loss of four wickets from 15 overs after the break.

Kallis came in for some fearsome treatment, but he at least reaped some rewards with the three late wickets to finish with 3-58 off 11 overs, while Andre Nel was the other multiple wicket-taker with 2-71.

It had been a morning of injury drama for the Proteas with paceman Makhaya Ntini ruled out of the rest of the Test with a mystery knee injury.

The fast bowler is reported to have suffered ligament damage, but it is unclear how the injury occurred as Ntini bowled the last over of day three and did not take the field on day four.

In addition to that loss, play was held up on two occasions when Andre Nel required treatment for a blood nose and Jacques Rudolph copped a full-blooded Hussey sweep to his left ankle while fielding at short leg.

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