Faf’s playing a captain’s knock

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South Africa won the toss and elected to bat

IF Josh Hazelwood had his way he would want to play every Test with a pink ball at the Adelaide Oval for as a combination they have particularly kind to the big New South Wales fast bowler.

In last year’s inaugural floodlit Test Hazelwood claimed nine New Zealand wickets in the match. At supper time – that’s the end of the second session in a day-night Test – he had already snared four South African wickets to put the home side in the ascendancy for the first time since the series opening day in Perth.

Hazelwood could have wrecked more carnage were it for the resoluteness of the South African captain Faf du Plessis. Unperturbed with the jeers from the strong Adelaide Oval crowd that greeted him as he made his way to the crease, Du Plessis held this team’s innings together with a gritty half-century.

It was innings that not only exemplified Du Plessis’s solid technique against the swinging ball – regardless of its colour – but also his temperament. The week leading up to South Africa’s maiden pink ball Test would have mentally drained the Proteas skipper with all the attention focused on him due to all the ball tampering dramas.

Du Plessis’s preparation was also interrupted after being forced to miss Tuesday’s training session altogether due to ICC hearing he attended.

All that, though, was put on the backburner as he stood as fought a lone battle against the marauding Aussie attack.

Du Plessis was at the crease in the 15th over already with the Proteas stumbling at 44/3. It would not have been the situation he would have desired after winning the toss for the third successive time in the series and electing to bat.

At that stage Dean Elgar (5), Hashim Amla (5) and JP Duminy (5) were already back in the changeoom.

Elgar was the first to depart when the left-hander was caught in two-minds in regards to leaving or playing an away swinger from Mitchell Starc. Ultimately he did neither particularly well and the ball clipped his outside en-route to Usman Khawaja, who took a comfortable catch at third slip.

It was just reward for Starc as the big left-armer was unlucky not to dismiss Stephen Cook earlier already. Cook was trapped on the crease and was on his way back to the pavilion when television footage appeared on the big screen indicating that Starc had not kept his front foot behind the popping crease.

In almost an exact replica of his three previous dismissals to Hazelwood in the series, Amla managed to get an outside edge to a good length delivery outside his off stump to offer Australian debutant Matt Renshaw his first catch at Test level.

JP Duminy succumbed in similar fashion before the tea interval before Hazelwood returned after the interval to make further inroads into the Proteas batting line-up.

After Jackson Bird claimed his first wicket upon return to the Test side when Temba Bavuma was also caught behind, Hazelwood struck a the major blows of the early evening session by removing the in-form Quinton de Dock and Vernon Philander in quick succession. It was De Kock’s first time in seven Test innings that he has failed to reach at least a half-century.

TEAMS:

Australia: David Warner, Matt Renshaw, Usman Khawaja, Steven Smith (capt), Peter Handscomb, Nic Maddinson, Matthew Wade (wk), Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird.

South Africa: Stephen Cook, Dean Elgar, Hashim Amla, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis (capt), Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock (wk), Vernon Philander, Kyle Abbott, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi.

Josh Hazelwood snared four South African wickets to leave the vistors reeling 165/7 at dinner on the first day of third Test in Adelaide.

Original source: Faf’s playing a captain’s knock

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