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Rain washes out play on 2nd day of Australia-S Africa test

Associated Press Associated Press 13/11/2016
Umpire Mick Martell inspects the pitch with an umbrella as rain delays play between Australia and South Africa in their cricket test match in Hobart, Australia, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft) © The Associated Press Umpire Mick Martell inspects the pitch with an umbrella as rain delays play between Australia and South Africa in their cricket test match in Hobart, Australia, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

HOBART, Australia — Rain prevented any play on the second day of the second cricket test between Australia and South Africa on Sunday after an extraordinary opening day in which 15 wickets fell.

South Africa won the toss on Saturday, bowled Australia out for 85 and then reached 171-5 before stumps to take an 86-run lead on day one.

Organizers cancelled play at Bellerive on Sunday when heavy rain started in the afternoon. Temba Bavuma remains unbeaten on 38 and Quinton de Kock is 28.

The South Africans won the opening test in Perth by 177 runs and can secure the three-test series with another victory in Hobart.

With three days of scheduled play remaining, there's still the chance of a result in the second test.

After the opening day, when Australia captain Steve Smith scored more than half the total with an unbeaten 48, coach Darren Lehmann said he was confident his team could take the remaining five South African first-innings wickets and set up a proper contest.

"I'm really confident they will play better than they did in the first innings," he said.

South Africa has only beaten Australia twice in test series since being re-admitted to international cricket in the 1990s. Both victories have been in Australia.

The last was in 2012-13, when South Africa clinched the series 1-0 with a victory in the third test in Perth after Australia had the better of the first two tests but was unable to force a victory.

Australia was ranked No. 1 in test cricket until being swept 3-0 in Sri Lanka in July and August. The loss in Perth was its fourth straight, and critics are describing the recent batting slump as a crisis.

To make matters worse, Australia hadn't lost a series-opening test on home soil since 1988 until last week, and its form deteriorated badly in Hobart when it was dismissed for its lowest total in a home test since 1984.

Kim Hughes, who quit as Australia captain during that series against the West Indies in 1984, was among the former players criticizing the national hierarchy for only scheduling one round of domestic first-class cricket before this test series against South Africa.

Cricket Australia's high-performance manager, Pat Howard, conceded on Sunday that he, Lehmann, the national selectors and the players were all under pressure unless there was a fast turnaround in form — particularly from the batting group.

"Australians expect that fight and that's a fair expectation," Howard said. "I'll give you an insight into the Sri Lankan review. There are two key themes: resilience and adaptability. I want to see some resilience now and see the guys who can step up."

Also Sunday, Cricket Australia confirmed it had banned a 25-year-old man for three years from matches across the country after he allegedly wrote racist graffiti directed at South African batsman Hashim Amla during play on Saturday.

Tasmania state police inspector Doug Rossiter said the man would face court over the incident.

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