Play has finally resumed in the third Test between Australia and South Africa with the first ball of day four at the SCG taking place at 1.45pm AEDT.
Pat Cummins declared with Australia at 4-475, meaning Usman Khawaja was left stranded on 195*, and Matthew Renshaw on 5*.
It didn’t take long for drama to strike in South Africa’s innings. Steve Smith appeared to have caught Dean Elgar in the slips, but there was question over whether the ball had touched the turf.
It was an eerily similar situation to one that saw Marnus Labuschagne given not out in the first innings, much to the shock of the Proteas.
However there was some consistency with the third umpire deeming that Smith’s one-handed attempt was unsuccessful.
It didn’t prove to be overly costly for Australia. Elgar was bounced out by the returning Josh Hazlewood for 15.
“Welcome back to Test cricket, Josh Hazlewood,” Adam Gilchrist said on Fox Cricket. “That is vicious. That is brutal.”
Earlier, Allan Border urged Cummins to declare before play starts, while Isa Guha slammed the state of the SCG covers that appeared to elongate the delay.
The Daily Telegraph reported there were fears about the state of the wicket, with groundstaff holding concerns about its dampness after long rain spells.
However, after a pitch inspection at 12.45pm, extra work was done to the areas around the wicket, allowing play to resume an hour later.
The news came after Guha called out the quality of ground coverage in Australia compared to England when it rains.
“Australia against England (in the T20 World Cup)… it was so sodden in the outfield at the MCG. The covers were pathetic really,” she said on Fox Cricket.
“For a ground of the magnitude of the MCG and as iconic as the SCG … you think of all the history and tradition, I’m staggered really by the level of coverage on the grounds. You would think they could invest in some better covers.
“You have the hover covers at Lord’s that come off really quickly and then at the Oval it literally covers the whole of the ground across the square for moments like this where bowlers are looking around at the pitch ends where it can be a bit dangerous.
“I’m pretty staggered that it’s not better equipped.”
With another lengthy rain delay on day four, after the entire third day’s play was washed out by rain in Sydney, Border said he would be making a harsh declaration call to leave Khawaja on 195*, noting the team-first culture that’s been established in the Australian group.
“Look, 195 not out is not too bad. I think if you have a mantra of team first, you’ve got to take those individual performances out of the thinking,” Border said on Fox Cricket.
“What’s your best option to win the game, and it’s to get bowling as soon as possible. I’d get booed all the way out there for sure, but how bad would it be tomorrow night when we have one wicket to get and a couple of overs to go, and you’re off for bad light? And you just say, ‘ah jee, that half-hour is lost.
“It’s harsh, but I’d be declaring now.”
Australia XI: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Matthew Renshaw, Alex Carey, Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins (c), Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon
South Africa XI: Dean Elgar (c) Sarel Erwee, Heinrich Klaasen, Temba Bavuma, Khaya Zondo, Kyle Verreynne, Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj, Simon Harmer, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje
The frequent rain and covering of the wicket had prevented the pitch from drying out and deteriorating from wear and tear for the benefit of Australia’s two selected spinners, Nathan Lyon and Ashton Agar.https://17ccddb8be5e2b70d9634d82593f88c6.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-40/html/container.html?n=0
Australia have gone into the match with only two selected frontline pacemen – Josh Hazlewood and Cummins — making their task even more difficult if the pitch is not as conducive to spin as the hosts had hoped.
Australia are pushing for a series whitewash to seal a place in the World Test Championship final in London in June.
“Time is the enemy. A result is very unlikely, let’s be honest, but it’s still possible,” Khawaja said.
South Africa are naturally not as concerned about the weather as they try to avoid the ignominy of a 3-0 drubbing.
Australia are 2-0 up in the series after winning the opening Test by a six-wicket rout in Brisbane inside two days and then hammering the Proteas by an innings and 182 runs in Melbourne
Source : FoxSport