CAPE TOWN - Michael Clarke remained unbeaten on 161, one of the more heroic of his 27 test hundreds, as Australia reached 494 for seven before rain brought an early end to the second day of the series-deciding third test against South Africa on Sunday. Clarke reached 150 for the 10th time in his test career and in doing so moved past three Englishman on the all-time run scorers list - Geoffrey Boycott, Kevin Pietersen and David Gower.

His innings was interrupted just past the midway point of the afternoon session by a downpour, together with high winds, which forced the players from the field at Newlands for the remainder of the day. "The advantage now is we start at 10am every day, so we'll still get some overs back," Clarke told reporters. "The forecast is pretty good for the next three days."

He added he would be happy to give up the chance of a double-hundred if the team decide to declare and put South Africa in to bat. "If we think declaring overnight is the best way (to win) then it doesn't bother me." Should Australia not declare overnight, Clarke will resume on Monday with Ryan Harris (four).

The Australian captain took a battering on day one from pace bowler Morne Morkel, who struck him a number of times, including a sickening blow to the back of the head. But he showed admirable composure to tough it out on what is a flat wicket and having been unbeaten on 92 overnight, was able to bring up his hundred, though not before spending 24 balls stuck on 99.

He reached his century off 215 deliveries with 11 fours and Newlands is now the first ground outside of Australia where he has two tons to his name. Clarke thanked Australia physio Alex Kountouris and doctor Peter Brukner for ensuring he was able to resume his innings on Sunday morning.

"It was a long night, a longer morning to be honest. Without their help, no way would I have got on the park today." South Africa picked up just one wicket in the morning session but added three more after lunch, including two in consecutive balls from part-time spinner JP Duminy (four for 73), who took his career-best figures.

Steve Smith (84) had looked in immaculate touch before he played onto his stumps off Dean Elgar. It ended a fourth-wicket stand of 184 in 50 overs between Smith and his skipper. Shane Watson looked to attack the bowling with 40 from 32 balls but perished when he picked out Hashim Amla at long-off off Duminy.

The spinner then claimed two wickets in as many balls, first Brad Haddin (13) caught at mid-off by Amla following a brief juggling act, and then Mitchell Johnson (zero) who got a feather edge to a leg-side delivery and was caught by wicketkeeper AB de Villiers. The South African pace attack has been blunted by the absence of the world's top test bowler Dale Steyn, who limped out of the game on Saturday with a hamstring strain. He is unlikely to bowl again in the match. The teams are level at 1-1 with South Africa not having beaten Australia in a home test series for 44 years.



(OVERNIGHT: 331-3):

C Rogers c Smith b Steyn    25

D Warner c De Villiers b Duminy    135

A Doolan c Steyn b Philander    20

M Clarke not out    161

S Smith b Elgar    84

S Watson c Amla b Duminy    40

B Haddin c Amla b Duminy    13

M Johnson c De Villiers b Duminy    0

R Harris not out    4

EXTRAS: (nb6, w6)    12

TOTAL: (7 wkts, 127.4 overs)    494

FOW: 1-65, 2-138, 3-217, 4-401, 5-456, 6-489, 7-489

BOWLING: Steyn 10.1-0-44-1, Philander 26.4-2-116-1, Morkel 23.5-2-94-0, Duminy 17-0-73-4, Abbott 28-11-68-0, Elgar 22-0-99-1

SOUTH AFRICA: G Smith, A Petersen, D Elgar, H Amla, A de Villiers, F du Plessis, J Duminy, V Philander, K Abbott, D Steyn, M Morkel

TOSS: Australia

UMPIRES: Aleem Dar (PAK), Kumar Dharmasena (SRI)

TV UMPIRE: Richard Illingworth (ENG)

MATCH REFEREE: Roshan Mahanama (SRI)