Australia 244 & 263/7 (Khawaja 97, Rabada 5/73, Duminy 1/23)
Perth - In a near desolate stadium all that could be heard out in the middle were the screams of jubilation from the South African cricketers whenever they took one step closer to victory on the final morning of what has been a truly gripping Test.
The Australian public are certainly in a state of utter disillusionment owing to their team’s woeful performance in this opening Test of the summer and demonstrated their disappointment through a lack of support at the WACA.
It was almost eerie watching the South Africans claim a wicket - they bagged three in the session including the big one of Usman Khawaja for 97 - in almost virtual silence.
The South Africans did not let the lack of atmosphere deter them though. They remained disciplined in their task of claiming the last six Australian wickets they required at the start of the day.
Kagiso Rabada - like he did so splendidly the previous evening - again led the charge. The young fast bowler has the heart of an African lion for he charged in with immense purpose on Monday morning. He was duly rewarded when he speared a yorker into the foot of the struggling Mitch Marsh. Although umpire Aleem Dar initially ruled not out, the television review system indicated that the ball was heading towards the leg stump and South Africa’s victory charge was on its way.
The momentum was halted, though, when Khawaja and Peter Neville showed a bit of the fight and courage that their spectators have been demanding from them which forced Proteas captain Faf du Plessis to turn to his part-timers while Rabada was off the field for some precautionary treatment to his bowling shoulder.
Faf du Plessis kisses Kagiso Rabada after he dismissed batsman Mitchell Starc. Photo: DAVE HUNT/EPA
The change of tactics almost had an immediate effect when Temba Bavuma - Sunday’s run out hero - was thrown the ball. In almost fairytale fashion, Bavuma wrapped Khawaja on the pads with his very first delivery, but he had despairingly overstepped the front foot line.
Khawaja’s fortune glass ran dry though a few overs later when fellow part-timer JP Duminy also got one through his defences. Only on this occasion not even the review system could rescue the classy left-hander. Khawaja was devastated with the umpire’s ruling for he not only missed out on a well-deserved century by only three runs, but he was also walking back to the pavilion with his team’s last realistic hope of saving the Test match.
This was much was clear when Rabada returned to the attack to spear another rasping yorker into the foot of Mitchell Starc to pick up his fifth wicket of the innings. It was a remarkable effort, especially in the absence of Dale Steyn, and the youngster duly lent down to kiss the famous WACA pitch in celebration.
Independent MediaIn a near desolate stadium all that could be heard were the screams of the South Africans whenever they took one step closer to victory.
Original source: Live from the WACA: KG's five edges Proteas closer