South Africa lead after Philander razes Australia for 85

Tea South Africa 0 for 43 (Cook 23*, Elgar 17*) trail Australia 85 (Smith 48*, Philander 5-21, Abbott 3-41) by 42 runs
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‘Australia seemingly back at Trent Bridge’

Australia have become used to humiliating collapses in recent years. There was 47 all out in Cape Town in 2011. There was 60 all out in Nottingham last year. And now, there is 85 all out in Hobart, 2016. At least those other debacles occurred halfway around the world, not in front of a home crowd. But now Australia have found a new way to embarrass themselves; by crumbling within 32.5 overs at Bellerive Oval, they have completed their second-shortest Test innings at home in the post-war era.

By only nine deliveries did they outlast the Australians led by Kim Hughes in 1984, but then that side was facing Malcolm Marshall, Joel Garner and Michael Holding at the WACA. There, it all happened so quickly that Courtney Walsh didn’t even get a chance to bowl. This time, the damage was done mostly by Vernon Philander and Kyle Abbott, who seamed and swung the ball under cloudy skies on a pitch bearing some moisture. But while it was true the conditions were hard, Australia’s batting was soft.

Only Steven Smith offered any real fight, and by finishing unbeaten on 48 he looked a class above all of his team-mates. The only other player to reach double figures was debutant Joe Mennie, a fast bowler who came in at No. 8 and struck a couple of boundaries in his 10. Philander finished with 5 for 21 and Abbott with 3 for 41, while Kagiso Rabada also picked up a wicket and the other came from a brilliant run-out effected by substitute fieldsman Dane Vilas.

It was a good toss to win for Faf du Plessis, who sent Australia in – Smith conceded that he too would have bowled first had he been given the chance. 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 an 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 for a golden duck. Australia were 4 for 8, which was their lowest four-down total in a Test innings for nearly 80 years. Philander had two from two balls, and Callum Ferguson faced the prospect of a hat-trick delivery as his first ball in Test cricket.

He survived that delivery, but the chaos was far from over. He was run out for 3 when he pushed Abbott through point, where Vilas misfielded. Ferguson came back for a second run but his dive was beaten by a stunning direct hit from the recovering Vilas, who had only been on the field for three balls after Philander left with a shoulder injury. Philander, who had 3 for 3 at the time, had collided painfully with Smith, but was able to return after lunch.

Australia lost a sixth wicket before the break when Peter Nevill was lbw to Rabada, and they went to the break on 6 for 43. After lunch, Philander resumed his attack and bowled Mennie, before Abbott had both Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood caught in the cordon. Australia’s humiliation – and Philander’s five-for – finished with Nathan Lyon being caught behind for 2.

If Australia hoped the conditions would make life equally difficult for South Africa’s top order, they were to be disappointed. By tea, the South Africans had moved to 43 without loss, with Stephen Cook on 23 and Dean Elgar on 17. Already their partnership was worth more than any Australian stand earlier in the day, and had occupied more than twice as many deliveries as any Australian partnership.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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