Ab­bott, Rabada bowl SA to se­ries vic­tory

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here -

TAKE a bow, Kyle Ab­bott. Take a bow, Kag­iso Rabada. Take a bow, Faf du Plessis and the en­tire South Africa squad. A month ago, this team ar­rived in Aus­tralia with­out its cap­tain and best bats­man, AB de Vil­liers, who is at home in­jured. They lost their best bowler, Dale Steyn, to a se­ri­ous in­jury barely a day into the cam­paign. And yet they have not only beaten Aus­tralia in the se­ries, they have crushed them. Hu­mil­i­ated them.

When this se­ries sched­ule was an­nounced, South Africa were wor­ried that it might be de­cided by a pinkball, day-night Test in Ade­laide. They need not have feared. In Ho­bart, they have de­stroyed Aus­tralia by an in­nings and 80 runs to fol­low their hefty vic­tory in Perth, and thus have se­cured a third con­sec­u­tive se­ries win in Aus­tralia. This was a to­tal an­ni­hi­la­tion, Aus­tralia fail­ing even to take the Test to lunch on day four — with a whole day hav­ing been lost to rain.

Aus­tralia faced only 558 de­liv­er­ies in this Test, their fourth-low­est tally in a home Test loss, and their low­est since Don Brad­man’s de­but match in 1928. In the first in­nings they col­lapsed for 85; at stumps on day three it seemed like they might have found some fight, hav­ing reached 2 for 121. But they were about to fold again. From the mo­ment Us­man Khawaja edged Ab­bott be­hind for 64, Aus­tralia lost 8 for 32 in less than 20 overs.

Aus­tralia have now lost their past five Tests and their past five ODIs. There will be re­crim­i­na­tions and there will be con­se­quences. It was hard to imag­ine Aus­tralia slip­ping fur­ther af­ter the Perth Test, but when they trav­elled to Ho­bart they were in ev­ery way head­ing south. There are nine days un­til the Ade­laide Test, and Aus­tralia will need ev­ery one of them. It is en­tirely pos­si­ble sig­nif­i­cant changes will have been made by the next Test.

On the fourth morn­ing, Aus­tralia’s bats­men were com­pletely un­able to han­dle the swing, seam and bounce of Ab­bott and Rabada. In the first in­nings it was Ver­non Phi­lan­der who claimed a five-wicket haul, but in the se­cond Ab­bott col­lected 6 for 77 and Rabada took 4 for 34. The fast bowlers have all stepped up in the most mag­nif­i­cent way since Steyn left the field in Perth with a se­ri­ous shoul­der in­jury.

They bowled so tightly on day four that Aus­tralia added only 40 to their overnight to­tal in 24.1 overs. Phi­lan­der might not have taken a wicket, but the pres­sure he built should not be un­der­es­ti­mated. Phi­lan­der bowled 30 dot balls on the fourth morn­ing be­fore Aus­tralia fi­nally got a run off him. Steven Smith took 40 min­utes to score his first runs of the day. When the wick­ets started to come, with Khawaja the first to go on 64, they came quickly.

Adam Vo­ges was next, and it is now dif­fi­cult to imag­ine him re­tain­ing his place for the Ade­laide Test. In his past five Tests — against Sri Lanka and South Africa — he has av­er­aged 14.8. In the five be­fore that — against West Indies and New Zealand — he av­er­aged 342. For­get choco­lates to boiled lol­lies, he has gone from choco­lates to Brus­sels sprouts. Here, a con­fused at­tempted leave lobbed off his gloves to slip off Ab­bott.

The debu­tant Callum Fer­gu­son also fell try­ing to leave the ball. In his case, it was a lack of bounce that caused the prob­lem, as he tried to sway un­der what he thought was a Rabada bouncer, but which stayed lower, clipped his gloves and flew away to slip. Fer­gu­son had made one, and it was a mis­er­able way to end his first Test, hav­ing been run out by a di­rect hit in the first in­nings for three. If a lack of bounce did for Fer­gu­son, Peter Nevill was brought un­done by ex­tra bounce, caught at slip when he fended a fierce Rabada bouncer on 6. Two balls later Rabada had Joe Men­nie lbw for a duck, and any hope of late Aus­tralian re­sis­tance dis­ap­peared when Smith fell for 31 in Rabada’s next over, caught be­hind to a ball that moved away just slightly.

Then it was just a mat­ter of time. Mitchell Starc edged be­hind off Ab­bott and the re­sult was con­firmed when Nathan Lyon lobbed a catch to mid-on to give Ab­bott a sixwicket haul, and nine for the match. Aus­tralia had lost in­side seven ses­sions of play, and South Africa had their third straight se­ries win in Aus­tralia. And given their chang­ing team, it is hard to imag­ine any has been sweeter than this. — Cricinfo

South Africa’s Kag­iso Rabada cel­e­brates a wicket in the se­cond Test against Aus­tralia in Ho­bart on the 4th day yes­ter­day

Kyle Ab­bott cel­e­brates a wicket

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