Australia out to crack de Villiers code

AB de Villiers is back to his best and seemingly stands between Australia and a series victory. (AAP)

Coach Darren Lehmann and captain Steve Smith say Australia must find a way to stop South Africa's in-form batsman AB de Villiers in the third Test.

AB de Villiers shapes as the riddle that Australia must solve as they seek to regain the ascendancy in their four-Test series against South Africa.

De Villiers has wound back the clock this series, posting his first century in more than three years to help deliver the Proteas a series-levelling victory in the second Test.

The gifted batsman has scored a total of 225 runs at 112.5 in the opening two Tests, making him the leading run-scorer in the series.

Alarmingly for Australia, de Villiers has been dismissed once in each Test.

He was run out for a duck by David Warner in Durban, while he popped up a catch to Cameron Bancroft at short leg when the result was almost a formality in Port Elizabeth.

"I don't think we bowled as well to him as we could've," Australia coach Darren Lehmann said after the second Test.

"That's an area we can certainly improve on.

"We've got to bowl better to him, he's a class player.

"But in general I think our bowling was first-rate again, if we had the extra 100 runs it would've been a ripsnorter of a Test match."

The series continues in Cape Town next Thursday.

Australia skipper Steve Smith admitted de Villiers has looked "in complete control" throughout the current series.

"He's still human, so it is about getting the ball in the right areas enough times to him," Smith told radio station SEN.

"Which I think we haven't done so far throughout this series, and if we do that hopefully we can get his wicket nice and early and get the pressure on."

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis spoke of de Villiers' desperation to perform against Australia prior to the first Test.

"I'm really looking forward to see what he's going to do for the rest of the series when he's in that sort of form," du Plessis said of his childhood friend.

Source: AAP

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