Rain kills South African hopes

Rain has effectively snuffed out South Africa's chances of winning the third Test against Australia at the SCG, effectively crushing the tourists' chance of levelling the three-Test series.

The Proteas are stranded on 94-3 at stumps on day four - an overall lead of 186 runs - but with only 20.3 overs possible on Thursday, they face a massive task to snatch an unlikely victory on the final day.

With rain falling throughout the morning at the SCG, play began one hour after the scheduled start time.

Once play finally started, Glenn McGrath's first over proved successful when the veteran quick trapped Graeme Smith (5) lbw, taking the score to 6-2.

Jacques Kallis and Herschelle Gibbs then guided the Proteas to the drinks break, but immediately after the interval, Gibbs was gifted a life when he edged a McGrath delivery to first slip and was put down by Shane Warne.

Gibbs made the Aussies pay a by hitting boundaries off consecutive McGrath deliveries, first hooking a short ball through square leg and then driving exquisitely through cover.

As Gibbs brought up his half century, the covers came onto the ground and an early lunch was taken with the score on 65-2.

Players were forced to take an extended meal break as steady showers fell during the middle of the day, and after several inspections of the ground and pitch by the umpires, play eventually resumed.

Gibbs signalled his intentions early by swinging wildly at McGrath's first two balls, yielding a boundary over the slip region.

With both batsmen happily picking off McGrath and Brett Lee, captain Ricky Ponting brought Shane Warne into the attack in a move that paid instant rewards.

When Gibbs tried to sneak through for a quick single and was sent back by Jacques Kallis, a direct hit from Brad Hodge at the non-striker's end caught him short of his ground to be run out for 67.

That dismissal signalled Australia's third wicket of the innings, and with it a further rain delay as the players headed back to the dressing rooms amid growing frustration for the players and the crowd.

The tea break was then taken, but with rain continuing, the players never made it back out.

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