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South Africa in control despite Australian fightback

Wisden India logo Wisden India 14-11-2016
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Luck deserted Australia in their desperate bid to salvage the second Test with South Africa snaring the vital wicket of David Warner in unfortunate circumstances at Bellerive Oval in Hobart on Monday (November 14).

At stumps on the third day, Australia were hanging in at 121 for 2, still 120 runs behind South Africa, who have been in control of the Test since routing Australia for 85 on Saturday and then putting up 326. Usman Khawaja was unbeaten on 56, his ninth Test half-century, with Steven Smith, the captain, accompanying him with 18.

Warner, who was seeking redemption after his reckless dismissal in the opening over of the first innings, lost his wicket while leading Australia’s fightback. Warner flung his head back in despair when a ball from Kyle Abbott hit his hip and ricocheted off the back elbow on to his stumps when he was on 45.

It gave South Africa a huge fillip after Warner and Khawaja had revived the innings with a 79-run stand after the loss of Joe Burns in the first over. Burns lasted just four balls before he was caught behind, tickling one down the leg side from Abbott.

Khawaja played some lovely shots in his vigil, and provided great support to Smith, who top-scored with an unbeaten 48 in Australia’s first-innings shambles.

Scores (Day 3): Australia: 85 & 121-2 against South Africa: 326

But Australia still faced a mighty struggle to prevent South Africa, already 1-0 up, from claiming their third successive series in Australia with only next week’s day-night third Test in Adelaide still to play.

South Africa extended their first-innings lead to 241 runs before being bowled out on the third afternoon with Josh Hazlewood finishing with 6 for 89 off 30.5 overs.

Hazlewood captured three of the last four wickets to fall after lunch for his second-best haul – behind the 6 for 70 against New Zealand in Adelaide last year – to take his tally to 88 Test wickets.

Before Hazlewood struck, Quinton de Kock plundered his second Test century to frustrate Australia’s efforts to restrict the lead. Shortly after lunch, Temba Bavuma was surprised by a rearing delivery to spoon an easy catch to Nathan Lyon at point and give Joe Mennie his first Test wicket for 74.

Keshav Maharaj followed shortly after, bowled by Hazlewood for one, and Abbott lasted nine balls before he became the pacer’s fifth dismissal for three. Vernon Philander was the last man out for 32 off 28 balls, caught behind off Hazlewood.

After Sunday’s second day was washed out, the Australians chased early wickets but de Kock and Bavuma batted South Africa into a position of strength with a century stand before de Kock was bowled by Hazlewood just before lunch for 104 off 143 balls with 17 fours.

His stand of 144 with Bavuma was the highest by a visiting team in Hobart for the sixth wicket. De Kock became only the fourth South African to register 50 or more in five consecutive Tests after he swept Lyon for four over wide mid-on.

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