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Friday, September 29, 2023
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Late wickets leave South Africa shellshocked in 2nd Australia Test


Australia Test

Australia took charge on day one of the second Test against South Africa at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Monday with two wickets on the cusp of lunch leaving the visitors reeling at 58-4.

The hosts won the first of three Tests by six wickets inside two days on a hostile and green Gabba pitch in Brisbane last week.

The MCG wicket was less bowler-friendly, but Australian captain Pat Cummins surprisingly chose to field at a venue where toss-winning teams normally bat first.

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South African skipper Dean Elgar said he was bewildered by the decision, but it proved to be inspired.

At the break, Khaya Zondo and Kyle Verreynne had yet to score after Elgar, who passed 5,000 Test runs, and Temba Bavuma both fell in the final few minutes of the session.

On a humid day, Cummins asked some searching early questions, dropping Elgar on seven off his own bowling and then having two big lbw shouts against Sarel Erwee denied.

Erwee lived dangerously and was no match for local hero Scott Boland, playing on his home ground in place of the injured Josh Hazlewood.

The seamer, who took 6-7 in the corresponding Test against England a year ago, came on to thunderous applause and got the breakthrough in his second over, with Usman Khawaja taking a low catch at third slip to remove Erwee for 18.

South Africa’s batting has been under the pump recently and as the senior player, Elgar knew he had to stick around.

But it was a grind, with the captain surviving when an inside edge off Boland sent the ball rolling onto his stumps only for the bails to stay on, then being dropped by Nathan Lyon.

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Cameron Green — the second-most expensive buy at the Indian Premier League auction last week — got Australia’s second wicket when Theunis De Bruyn attempted a pull shot and wicketkeeper Alex Carey took an easy catch.

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Disaster then struck with Elgar needlessly run out by Marnus Labuschagne for 26 and Bavuma falling for one on the next ball, edging Mitchell Starc to Carey.

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