Khawaja drags Baggy Green ahead
An unbeaten century from makeshift opener Usman Khawaja helped Australia to a solid position on day two of the third and Final Test in Adelaide.
Australia ended the day on 307 for 6 with a 48 run lead having been pegged back by a flurry of wickets in the final session.
The hosts resumed on 14 without loss with Khawaja and Matt Renshaw at the wicket but the latter wouldn’t last long as a beautiful catch by Dean Elgar gave Kyle Abbott his first wicket and the debutant fell for 10.
David Warner would then come out to bat having been denied the opportunity to bat the day before by Faf du Plessis’ cheeky declaration.
Warner (11) didn’t last long as he was unable to resist the carrot dangled outside his offstump by Abbott with Elgar doing the honours in the corden.
That brought together Khawaja and Skipper Steve Smith and the pair would put on a stunning third wicket partnership of 137 runs to wrestle the initiative away from the Proteas.
JP Duminy came close to getting the breakthrough as he enticed the edge from Smith when he was on 46 but Hashim Amla’s horror tour took another terrible twist as he grassed the chance.
In the end it wouldn’t be a Proteas bowler who brought about Smith’s (59) demise but a mix-up with Khawaja as the skipper was run out for 59.
Peter Handscomb joined Khawaja and after some early struggles settled in to Test cricket like a natural which will leave many wondering why the Baggy Green persisted with the out of sorts Adam Voges for so long.
Khawaja would become the first Australian to score a century in this series as he notched his fifth career Test hundred.
Handscomb went on to score a fifty on his debut with his mum on hand to witness the special moment for the young man.
Abbott produced a ripper to account for Handscomb (54) and leave Australia 273 for four, with the seam movement making the ball nearly unplayable.
The third of Australia’s debutants Nic Maddinson (0) wasn’t able to make the impact Handscomb did as he was cleaned up by Kagiso Rabada who gave the batsman a send off that might land the quick in hot water.
Matthew Wade (4) departed cheaply as Vernon Philander got in on the act, producing an excellent ball that Wade could only nick off to.
Mitchell Starc joined Khawaja and looked out of sorts from the start but survived being given out leg before with the review showing the ball pitched millimetres outside leg.
Starc (16 not out) and Khawaja (138 not out) would see out the day though reaching 307/6 and a 48 run lead.
This was the first time Australia have managed to bat through a day in this series with solid contributions from the middle order finally materializing.
Abbott ended the day with stellar figures of 3 for 38 from 25 overs.
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