HOBART: South Africa routed Australia for 85 and then weathered a batting crisis of their own before pushing to a lead of 86 runs after a bowler-dominated opening day of the second test in Hobart yesterday.
Temba Bavuma, unbeaten on 38, and wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock (28 not out) guided South Africa to 171-5 at stumps at Bellerive Oval, after paceman Mitchell Starc threatened to drag the hosts back into the game with a fiery spell after tea.
On a gloomy, overcast morning, Proteas captain Faf du Plessis won the toss and sent Australia in to bat on a green-tinged wicket moistened by drizzle.
The call was a masterstroke as his fired-up pacemen, led by a five-wicket haul from Vernon Philander, bowled Australia out in 32.5 overs, for their lowest total at home since a 76 against West Indies in Perth in 1984.
It was also the lowest total of any team at Bellerive Oval and well short of Australia’s previous nadir against the Proteas, a 111 at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 1994.
Thrashed by 177 runs in the opener in Perth, Australia’s hopes of a series-levelling victory looked all but dashed. They face a monumental task just to save the match and prevent South Africa closing out the tournament with a game in hand.
Captain Steve Smith was the only Australian batsman to show defiance with an unbeaten 48, while debutant paceman Joe Mennie (10) was his only team mate to reach double figures.
In response, South Africa cruised to 43 without loss at tea before wobbling after the break, as left-armer Starc dismissed openers Stephen Cook (23) and Dean Elgar (17), and JP Duminy (1) for three runs in a devastating spell on a day when 15 wickets tumbled.
Hazlewood trapped Du Plessis lbw for seven to leave the Proteas vulnerable at 76-4 but Amla (47) and Bavuma steadied the innings with a vital 56-run stand.
Amla was Hazlewood’s second victim, nicking behind to wicketkeeper Peter Nevill, but his partner De Kock batted superbly in the final overs to frustrate the home side.
The day belonged to Philander, who took 5-21, having returned to the field after lunch following a heavy clash with Smith as the captain ran through for a single.
Australia were reduced to eight for four in the ninth over in a disastrous start, when Philander dismissed Adam Voges for a first-ball duck, his third wicket putting him on a hat-trick.
Debutant batsman Callum Ferguson, who replaced the dropped all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, saw off Philander’s hat-trick ball before the bowler crashed in to Smith while appealing for lbw.
Philander exited the field and South Africa lost a review for the lbw appeal but moments later, Ferguson was run out by a direct hit from substitute fielder Dane Vilas at deep backward point.
Australia were reeling at 17-5 but Smith spared Australia the indignity of a record lowest test score.
Fast bowler Kyle Abbott, who replaced injured paceman Dale Steyn, took 3-41, and trapped recalled opener Joe Burns lbw for one in his first over before returning to clean up the tail. – Reuters