South Africa lose three in the morning session

by Staff  •  Published on Thu, Dec 29, 2022, 8:21pM

Australia took another big step towards sealing a home Test series win over South Africa in an extended morning session on the fourth day of the Boxing Day Test. They claimed three wickets over 34 overs and despite an unbeaten half-century stand between Temba Bavuma (37*) and Kyle Verreynne, the visitors found themselves still in the arrears by 266 runs.

The rains that led to a premature finish to the third day’s play had disappeared by the fourth morning and conditions remained largely good for batting. South Africa’s overnight batters, Theunis de Bruyn and Sarel Erwee even made a steady start against Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc even if scoring opportunities were scarce. It took until the sixth over of the day’s play for Australia to create a half chance. Starc drew an edge from de Bruyn but the edge fell well short of Steve Smith in the slips.

While Cummins was at his parsimonious best, it was Starc that seemed most likely to give the hosts their first breakthrough of the morning. And so it proved when the left-armer swung a full ball into the boots of Erwee and cleverly called for a review even when the on-field umpire deemed that the ball may have hit the bat first. Hot Spot provided proof that the ball had indeed clipped the batter’s toe before striking the bat and ruled Erwee out LBW.

Scott Boland produced a near-unplayable ball that climbed on to de Bruyn and flew to second slip off the batter’s edge. Smith’s 150th catch was special in that he was blindsighted by Marnus Labuschagne diving across him. South Africa then slipped further when Bavuma called Khaya Zondo over for a non-existant single only for the latter to be run-out by an under-armed direct-hit by Travis Head.

At 65 for 4, South Africa seemed headed to a collapse that has become ever so familiar on this tour but Bavuma and Vereyyne combined to offer some resistance through a counter-attack that saw them complete a half-century stand in just 70 balls. The two batters didn’t shy away from playing their shots, whether it was sweeping Nathan Lyon or going up and over against the quick bowlers. The visitors though will need both batters to bat through the next two sessions if they are to make Australia bat again in this Test match.

Brief scores: South Africa 189 & 120/4 (Temba Bavuma 37*; Pat Cummins 1-8) trail Australia 575/8 decl. by 266 runs.

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