Faf rallies Proteas in Adelaide
The very first day’s play for South Africa in a day/night Test match has proved to be an eventful one with a top order collapse, a wagging tail, a captain’s ton and a declaration.
South Africa won the toss and elected to bat and it became immediately obvious that batting will not be easy in these conditions.
Mitchell Starc trapped Stephen Cook leg before early on the day but the opener was given a reprieve after replays showed the quick had overstepped.
Cook whose father faced South Africa’s first delivery with the white ball faced the first with the pink ball and he would desperately try to hold the Proteas top order together as wickets began to tumble.
Dean Elgar, Hashim Amla and JP Duminy could each only make five as Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc hit their straps early on to reduce the Proteas to 44 for three in the first session.
Hazlewood got the wicket of Amla for the fourth time in five innings as he continued to plague the Proteas number three.
That brought out the man everyone wanted to see, Faf du Plessis, a chorus of boos rained down on him as he made his way to the crease but that wouldn’t bother the skipper.
Cook and his captain would take the Proteas safely to tea on 89 for 3 but the opener would depart soon after the interval for a vital 40 as he became the fourth man to be caught behind the wicket nicking off to Starc.
Temba Bavuma (8) fell victim to the returning seamer Jackson Bird as Du Plessis searched for someone to build a partnership with.
Quinton de Kock (24) showed intent and struck three fours before he got a brilliant ball from Hazlewood and edged the ball to Matthew Wade behind the stumps.
Vernon Philander (4) has every right to feel aggrieved by his dismissal, he was adjudged caught behind and immediately reviewed the decision but Bizarrely the third umpire upheld the on-field umpires decision despite no evidence that he got anything on the ball.
South Africa were in trouble at 161 for 7 but the tail would wag beautifully and Faf du Plessis played a titanic knock to lift his team to a competitive total.
Kyle Abbott made a vital 17 off 50 balls, only Cook and Du Plessis faced more, as he put on 54 for the eighth wicket and together with his captain who played some glorious strokes lifted the visitors beyond 200.
Abbott got a ripper from Bird and was plumb lbw but the tide had turned.
Du Plessis brought up what may yet prove to be his sweetest Test ton and shared an embrace with Kagiso Rabada as he received a begrudging round of applause from the Adelaide crowd that had booed him so vociferously.
Rabada would help Nathan Lyon end his long wicket drought as he dragged his back leg out of the crease to allow Wade to stump him for one.
The show wasn’t over yet though as Tabraiz Shamsi came out and looked in constant danger of losing his wicket.
Shamsi was prepared to throw his bat at anything that moved though and he and the skipper moved the score to 259 for 9 before the captain ran off the field after a surprise declaration.
The timing of the declaration meant that arguably Australia’s best batsman David Warner could not open because he had been off the field with a shoulder injury.
Australia will be relieved that Usman Khawaja (3*) and Matthew Renshaw (8*) were able to survive 12 difficult overs leaving the game delicately poised.
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