Stumps: Proteas hold strong advantage


South Africa: 171/5 (Amla 47, Bavuma 38*, Starc 3/49)

Hobart - The Proteas hold a strong advantage here in the second Test after a dramatic first day’s play at Bellerive Oval where 15 wickets fell in total.

Ten of them belonged to Australia as the hosts first innings lasted just 32.1 overs. Opening bowler Vernon Philander was the destroyer-in-chief for the Proteas as he wrecked havoc with the new ball.

Philander famously played a big part in dismissing Australia for just 47 on debut in Cape Town in 2011. On Saturday morning Philander summoned the ghosts of Newlands past. Under cloudy skies with moisture in the pitch, and armed with a new Kookaburra after skipper Faf du Plessis won the toss and elected to bowl, Hobart might as well have been heaven for Philander.

The 32-year-old certainly collected his rewards when along with the impressive Kyle Abbott, who was called up to replace the injured Dale Steyn, removed both Australian openers before the first two overs were completed.

If that was all too much for a strong home crowd stunned into silence to digest, there was nothing that could have prepared them for what was still to come.

Philander struck with consecutive deliveries in his fifth over to remove both Usman Khawaja and Adam Voges to leave Australia reeling at 8/4 with debutant Callum Ferguson to come.

Ferguson denied Philander a maiden Test hat-trick, but only a couple of overs later he was not quick enough to make his ground when substitute fielder Dane Vilas brilliantly threw down the stumps from backward point. Australia were now 17/5.

Vilas was only on the field after Australian captain Steve Smith had accidently taken out Philander while attempting a leg-bye. The collision was accidental, but it required Philander to leave the field until after the lunch interval. It was some respite for Australia as the opening bowler’s figures were 3 for 3 from 6.2 overs at that stage.

The pre-lunch collapse was not over yet though. Perth hero Kagiso Rabada also wanted in on the act and duly delivered when he trapped Peter Neville to complete the most amazing session of Test cricket for the South Africans in Australia ever. The scoreboard at lunch was 43/6 with only captain Steve Smith left at the crease to put up some sort of a fight.

Unfortunately for the Aussies the “Ravensmead Wrecker” was back on the field after the interval having had some treatment from Proteas physiotherapist Brendon Jackson and he had some unfinished business to take care of.

Philander had not taken a five-wicket haul since 2013 and realised the opportunity to atone for that statistic was right here and now.

He immediately removed another debutant Joe Mennie after the interval before Abbott gave him a scare by snaring a couple of wickets too though the brilliance of JP Duminy at gully and Hashim Amla at first slip. Duminy took a one-handed diving screamer to dismiss Mitchell Starc, while Amla moved low towards his right to hold on to a flying edge from Josh Hazelwood.

However, it was only fitting for Philander to wrap up the innings when last man Nathan Lyon edged behind. Again, though, South Africa’s catching behind the wicket was on a different level with wicket-keeper Quinton de Kock flying acrobatically to his right to claim a one-handed chance in front of Amla at first slip.

Australia were all out for 85, and just like Cape Town 2011, Philander once again had a five-wicket haul to show for his efforts.

South Africa made a solid start in reply with openers Dean Elgar and Stephen Cook calmly taking the visitors to 43 without loss by the time the tea interval was reached.

Australia, though, hit back immediately when Mitchell Starc speared a yorker into Elgar’s pads with the first ball after the break. Starc dragged his team further into the contest when Cook edged the left-armer behind only three balls later.

Like Philander earlier, Starc had his tail up and went full throttle in search of further success. It duly came when JP Duminy too edged behind to bring the Baggy Greens straight back into the contest.

Hashim Amla brought some sort of calm to the proceedings through building partnerships with Du Plessis and Temba Bavuma, but he could too not survive until the close.

Hazelwood, who had earlier also claimed the big wicket of Du Plesssis when he wrapped the Proteas skipper on the pads, induced a loose shot from Amla outside the off stump.

It was the third time Hazelwood had picked up Amla in as many innings during this series and it allowed the door to be left open just enough for the Aussies to harbour overnight thoughts of working themselves back into this contest on Sunday after a disastrous first session.

Independent Media

The Proteas hold a strong advantage in the second Test after a dramatic first day’s play at Bellerive Oval where 15 wickets fell in total.

Original source: Stumps: Proteas hold strong advantage