Australia lose six in chaotic opening session

Lunch Australia 6 for 43 (Smith 20*, Mennie 10*, Philander 3-3) v South Africa
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball details

The dismissal of David Warner began the morning’s carnage © AFP

In Cape Town in 2011, Australia were skittled by South Africa for 47. At Trent Bridge last year, they were rolled by England for 60. At lunch on the first day, Hobart 2016 was threatening to join them on the list of Australia’s most disastrous recent collapses, after Vernon Philander and his bowling colleagues reduced the Australians to 6 for 43. Faf du Plessis had won the toss and sent Australia in, and under cloudy skies with moisture in the pitch, it was a good toss to win.

The ball seamed, sharply at times, and Australia lost their openers within the first two overs of the innings. When they slipped further to be 4 for 8, it was their lowest four-down total in a Test innings for nearly 80 years. A stunning direct hit from substitute fielder Dane Vilas then added to Australia’s misery to leave them at 5 for 17. At lunch, Steven Smith was the key, still at the crease on 20, while debutant Joe Mennie was on 10.

But if Australia were six down, South Africa appeared to be one down themselves, with Philander having left the field following a collision with Smith. Philander had the remarkable figures of 3 for 3 from 6.2 overs when Smith picked up a leg bye behind square. Smith was watching the ball as he took off for a run; Philander was running backwards, facing the umpire in an lbw appeal. They collided, and Philander left the field to have his shoulder iced.

South Africa were hopeful Philander would be able to return to the field, but it was starting to look like they might not need him – at least for the rest of the first innings. Three balls after Philander left the field, Australia’s debutant No.6 Callum Ferguson – they had dropped Mitchell Marsh and opted for no allrounder for the first time since the 2015 Trent Bridge debacle – was run out for 3, diving for a second run. Vilas, on for Philander, threw down the stumps from behind point.

Kagiso Rabada then claimed the final wicket of the frenetic session, when he trapped Peter Nevill lbw for 3. Aleem Dar gave Nevill not out on field but the South Africans asked for a review, and Nevill was sent on his way. It left Australia at 6 for 31; they added 12 more runs before lunch to complete one of the most chaotic sessions of a Test match in Australia for some time. And there had even been sufficient time for a rain delay during the session.

Smith conceded at the toss that he too would have chosen to field first given the conditions, and it took only 12 balls for Australia to lose both openers. In the first over, David Warner flashed wildly and widely outside off and edged Philander behind. In the second over, the recalled Joe Burns was trapped lbw by a Kyle Abbott delivery that jagged back so sharply it was as if Abbott was bowling fast offspin.

In the ninth over, Philander had Usman Khawaja caught at slip from another seaming delivery, and next ball he drew Adam Voges forward and seamed one away, which was edged behind to Quinton de Kock. Voges had a golden duck, Philander had two from two balls, and Ferguson faced the prospect of facing a hat-trick delivery as his first ball in Test cricket, with the score at 4 for 8. He survived that ball, but it was far from the end of the chaos.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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