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An Australian whitewash

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MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: Brett Lee and Michael Kasprowicz celebrate Australia's thrilling win.
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: Brett Lee and Michael Kasprowicz celebrate Australia's thrilling win.

Brett Lee guides the world champion home in a humdinger

It was Australia's first Test series whitewash in South AfricaLee declared `man of the match'Martyn cracked his 13th Test hundred

JOHANNESBURG: Damien Martyn completed his century to help Australia to a tense two-wicket triumph over South Africa on Tuesday to complete a historic 3-0 clean sweep.

Martyn top-scored with 101 as Australia, which needed 292 to win, reached 294 for eight on the fifth morning of the final Test, with `man of the match' Brett Lee hitting the winning runs.

It was Australia's first Test series whitewash in South Africa.

Martyn, 34, with his Test future in question, batted for 286 minutes, faced 208 balls and hit 13 fours in his 13th century before he was dismissed with Australia 34 runs short of its target.

Martyn and Lee had begun the fifth day with Australia 44 runs away from victory on 248 for six but effectively seven down due to the head injury that kept Justin Langer in the dressing room.

Martyn, who needed seven for his century, reached it in the third over with a cut through third man for four.

Impressive spell

Shaun Pollock, with the new ball, found the edge of Martyn's bat twice in the space of the next four deliveries only for the ball to fall short of the slip cordon.

Then, five balls after Martyn reached his century, Pollock struck with an inswinger that hit the Australian's back pad as he retreated defensively and was given out leg before.

Stuart Clark came in, scored 10 quick runs but was out when he attempted to pull a delivery from Ntini and skied a catch to wicketkeeper Mark Boucher to leave the tourist on 275 for eight.

Langer not needed

Langer, seemingly preparing to ignore medical advice and pad up if necessary, was spared the decision when Lee and Michael Kasprowicz (7 not out) steered Australia to victory with an unbroken stand of 19 runs off 17 balls.

Lee, who was 24 not out, cut Pollock through point for four to win the match.

Lee and Kasprowicz also earned redemption for an Ashes-defining failure last August, when the duo put on 59 for the last wicket in the second Test against England in Birmingham, only for Kasprowicz to be dismissed to give England a two-run win. The result levelled a series, which England went on to win. On Tuesday, they were effectively the last pair again although injured opener Langer defied doctor's orders and put on the pads with about ten runs needed.

Justice prevails

``It was a bit of justice after what happened in England,'' said Australian captain Ricky Ponting.

``It was almost exactly the same situation. I know how much it hurt those guys that day. We sat down after that game and we all basically said to them how proud we were of what they had done, although we didn't get across the line. It was unbelievably difficult conditions for batting out there.''

Langer, who suffered concussion when struck by a ball from Ntini on Saturday, told his teammates before play that he wouldn't be able to bat.

``But when it got to about ten runs to win Justin took it on himself to put the pads on,'' said Ponting. ``But he was probably only ever going to go out if he could stand at the non-striker's end. We couldn't risk him having to face any deliveries in the game.''

``Medically over the last couple of days his situation hadn't changed. It was going to take me and probably a few other blokes to keep him in the dressing room. To tell the truth I don't know what I would have done if it had come down to that. I probably would have had to declare.''

South African captain Jacques Kallis said it had been a big blow not to be able to call on fast bowler Andre Nel during the final innings because of illness. Nel was not allowed to bowl because an upset stomach kept him off the field for most of the fourth day's play.

``But we arrived this morning really believing we could win it. They played aggressively and it paid off.'' Kallis said.

Kallis insisted the South African team was moving forward. ``We've made strides. We're a long way behind Australia but the results aren't a true reflection,'' he said.

Australia won the first Test by seven wickets in Cape Town, and the second by 112 runs in Durban. Agencies

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