Shaky Proteas hang on as late wick­ets tum­ble

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

South Africa lost skip­per Faf du Plessis amid a clat­ter of late wick­ets as the match pen­du­lum swung de­ci­sively to­wards Aus­tralia in the third day-night Test in Ade­laide yes­ter­day.

The Aus­tralians, who led by 124 runs on the first in­nings, re­duced the Proteas to 194 for six with the prized wicket of du Plessis for 12 com­ing late on the third day. At the close, South Africa were hold­ing on and just 70 runs ahead of Aus­tralia head­ing into to­day’s fourth day.

Opener Stephen Cook was in sight of his sec­ond Test cen­tury and was un­beaten on 81 off 199 balls with Quin­ton de Kock yet to score. Aus­tralia, bid­ding to pre­vent South Africa from car­ry­ing off a se­ries clean sweep af­ter huge de­feats in the open­ing two Tests, took ma­jor strides yes­ter­day with Us­man Khawaja lead­ing the way with his near eight-hour epic.

Mitchell Starc cap­tured the big wicket of du Plessis who, mo­ti­vated by the events of his con­tro­ver­sial pre-Test ball-tam­per­ing case, scored a ca­reer pin­na­cle un­beaten 118 in the first in­nings of the match. Du Plessis at­tempted to drive Starc only to get an out­side edge to new­comer Peter Hand­scomb, who took a bril­liant div­ing two-handed catch in the gully. It was a ma­jor mo­ment in the course of the Test given the abil­ity of du Plessis to play out long match-sav­ing in­nings, mem­o­rably his de­fi­ant 376-ball un­beaten knock of 110 to deny Aus­tralia vic­tory in Ade­laide four years ago. Starc started the ball rolling, re­mov­ing Dean El­gar with the fourth ball of his open­ing over for a duck and fel­low pace­man Josh Ha­zle­wood had Hashim Amla caught be­hind for 45. It was the fifth time Ha­zle­wood had cap­tured Amla’s wicket in five in­nings in the se­ries.

Spin­ner Nathan Lyon tight­ened the screws with three late wick­ets. JP Du­miny played across the spin­ner and was bowled for 26 and Temba Bavuma fell three overs from stumps, caught off his gloves by Steve Smith sweep­ing Lyon for 21.

Lyon re­moved night­watch­man Kyle Abbott leg be­fore wicket for a duck in the day’s fi­nal over.

“It was an un­be­liev­able at­mos­phere to­wards the end,” Lyon said. “This Test match we have bowled a lot bet­ter in partnerships...We still need four wick­ets and there’s still two qual­ity bat­ters there at the mo­ment.” South Africa’s chances of post­ing a com­pet­i­tive lead hinge on Cook and de Kock pro­duc­ing a big stand.

“There is an op­por­tu­nity for us to­mor­row to try and cap­i­talise on a big part­ner­ship to try and push us up past 180-200 lead,” team bat­ting coach Neil McKen­zie said. “If we can do that and take a few early wick­ets as we have done to Aus­tralia be­fore that will give South Africa a lot of con­fi­dence.” Khawaja ear­lier top scored with 145 with the last four wick­ets adding 100 runs to put the home side in com­mand.

His 308-ball vigil fi­nally came to an end when he was trapped leg be­fore wicket by Ver­non Phi­lan­der.

The un­flap­pable left-han­der oc­cu­pied the crease for 466 min­utes af­ter he was forced to open the in­nings af­ter a mis­cal­cu­la­tion over David Warner’s time off the field for in­jury treat­ment when the Proteas un­ex­pect­edly de­clared. Khawaja left the field to a stand­ing ova­tion fol­low­ing his sec­ond-high­est Test score, amassed over three days, rank­ing only be­low his 174 against New Zealand in Bris­bane last year.

It was the Pak­istan-born bats­man’s fifth Test cen­tury, all posted over the last 12 months. Khawaja’s epic knock was also the first cen­tury by an Aus­tralian in the South Africa se­ries and he has now scored 314 runs at 62.80 in five in­nings. Starc clubbed his sev­enth Test half-cen­tury with a 91-ball 53 be­fore he was caught and bowled by Kag­iso Rabada, end­ing a lively knock that fea­tured five fours and a six.

Abbott was the best of South Africa’s bowlers with an eco­nom­i­cal three wick­ets for 49 off 29 overs with young gun speed­ster Rabada claim­ing three for 84. —AFP

ADE­LAIDE: Aus­tralian bats­man Jack­son Bird (L) hits a ball past South African fielder Temba Bavuma dur­ing the third day of the third Test cricket match be­tween Aus­tralia and South Africa at the Ade­laide Oval in Ade­laide yes­ter­day. — AFP

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