Australia fight, but South Africa still in control

Australia 85 and 2 for 121 (Khawaja 56*) trail South Africa 326 (De Kock 104, Bavuma 74, Hazlewood 6-89, Starc 3-79) by 120 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

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‘Warner, Khawaja show it can be done’

On the first day, this Test was on some sort of stimulant. On the second day, it swallowed a sedative. And on the third day, it took a mood-stabiliser, as a degree normality resumed. There was neither the chaos of Saturday’s 15 wickets, nor the dreariness of Sunday’s wash-out, but rather something in between: seven wickets, a couple of rain delays, a Quinton de Kock century, and a fightback of sorts from Australia’s batsmen. But at stumps, South Africa remained firmly in control.

The situation at stumps was this: Australia had reached 2 for 121 in their second innings, with Usman Khawaja well set on 56 and Steven Smith on 18. David Warner had made 45 and Joe Burns a duck, and each would consider themselves unfortunate in their modes of dismissal. South Africa’s fast men asked searching questions of Australia’s top-order batsmen, who at last had a few answers. But they were still a long way from climbing out of the huge hole they dug on day one.

At the close of play Australia were still 120 runs away from making South Africa bat again. That will be their first goal on day four. Only then can they consider building a target, and thus have any hope of salvaging a positive result from the Test.

Full report to follow

South Africa remained firmly on top at tea on the third day in Hobart, after Quinton de Kock’s second Test century earlier set up a 241-run first-innings lead over Australia. Kyle Abbott struck in the first over of Australia’s second innings when he had Joe Burns caught down leg side for a duck, but David Warner and Usman Khawaja batted out the remainder of the session with no further damage.

At the break, Warner was on 29 and Khawaja had 24, and Australia were on 1 for 54, still 187 runs shy of making South Africa bat again. South Africa’s bowlers had extracted more seam movement than their Australian counterparts, and Warner was lucky to survive in the last over before tea when he edged Abbott and Dean Elgar at third slip inexplicably ducked under the flying ball, to the astonishment of the rest of the cordon.

There had also been a close call earlier when Warner pushed Abbott to point and called for a quick single, but Khawaja had no hope of making his ground and had given up as the throw came in from Temba Bavuma. However, unlike in Perth, where he completed one of the most remarkable run-outs in recent history, Bavuma on this occasion missed.

Earlier, Josh Hazlewood had completed the second six-wicket haul of his Test career as South Africa were bowled out for 326 shortly after lunch. De Kock and Bavuma were the key batsmen on the third day, compiling a 144-run sixth-wicket stand that added to Australia’s frustration after the entire second day was washed out.

South Africa went to lunch on 6 for 288, and the remaining four wickets fell for 38 runs after the break as Hazlewood knocked over the tail and finished with 6 for 89. At length, Joe Mennie also picked up the first wicket of his Test career when his bounce surprised Bavuma, whose leading edge flew into the off side and was caught by Nathan Lyon.

Joe Mennie took his first Test wicket in his 26th over © Getty Images

But by then Bavuma had scored 74, and occupied the crease for 204 deliveries; Australia’s entire first innings was over in 197 balls. But once Bavuma departed the end came relatively quickly. Hazlewood had Keshav Maharaj bowled for 1, Kyle lbw for 3, and then finished the innings with Vernon Philander caught behind for 32.

South Africa had added a further 117 runs to their total in the first session on day three, for the loss only of de Kock’s wicket. And that took until the fourth-last over before lunch, when on 104 he played a tired-looking drive against Hazlewood and missed a ball that moved back in, and was bowled.

But already de Kock had done more than enough damage, his fifth consecutive Test innings of fifty or more placed him in elite company: only Hashim Amla, Alan Melville, Hansie Cronje and Jacques Kallis (three times) among South Africans had achieved that feat before. He brought up his century from his 139th delivery with a single worked through square leg.

Australia’s bowlers had created few chances in the session, although de Kock survived a stumping chance on 72 when Lyon turned one past the edge and Peter Nevill fumbled his take. And in the final over before the break, Bavuma drove uppishly against Mennie towards mid-on, where Callum Ferguson found himself wrong-footed and was late to the ball, which dropped just in front of him.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.


Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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