Australia v South Africa, 3rd Test, Day 1: 5 Talking Points

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Usman Khawaja and Matt Renshaw of Australia
Usman Khawaja and Matt Renshaw of Australia come from the field at the end of play on day one. (Photo by Morne de Klerk/Getty Images)

After suffering crushing defeats at Perth and Hobart, hosts Australia made wholesale changes ahead of their dead rubber against the Proteas and dropped as many as six from the original squad. While Australia surrendered the first Test by 177 runs, South Africa ran riot in the 2nd Test winning by a huge margin of an innings and 80 runs.

Despite South Africa’s dominance in the series so far, they have been pegged back by the ICC with ball tampering allegations against their captain Faf du Plessis. He was charged with ball tampering allegations during the Hobart Test but completely denied those allegations and said he has done nothing wrong and this is the way everyone shines the ball irrespective of their country.

Australia came into the Adelaide Test with a completely different team with the hope of making a quick turnaround. As many as three players made their debut in the match including Matt Renshaw, Nic Maddinson and Peter Handscomb.

Here we look at 5 talking points from the 1st day of the 3rd Test

1. Josh Hazlewood’s brilliant spell

Hazlewood who has a pretty impressive record at Adelaide didn’t do any harm to his record as the tall fast bowler finished with figures of 4/68.

He bowled his heart out and got his first reward in the 13th over of the innings dismissing the dangerman Hashim Amla caught by Debutant Matt Renshaw. Duminy was quick to follow Amla in the dressing room after edging an outside the stump delivery to Mathew Wade.

Hazlewood came back strongly in the 2nd spell dismissing wicket-keeper batsman Quinton de Kock and followed it up with Vernon Philander’s wicket pretty soon. Both were caught by Matthew Wade behind the stumps.

2. Jackson Bird’s impressive spell

Playing in only his 6th Test, Jackson Bird bowled in the right areas and was pretty impressive while bowling to the star-studded South African batting line up. He came in as the 1st replacement and bowled his heart out.

He was rewarded pretty soon as Temba Bavuma nicked a beautiful outswinger from Bird to the hands of Matthew Wade. He was the perfect foil for Hazlewood who was the most successful Aussie bowler.

Bird picked up his 2nd wicket when he trapped Kyle Abbot right in front of the stumps to end his long vigil at the crease. He finished with 2/57 in his 16 overs.

3. Captain Faf du Plessis’ superb century

After the ball tampering allegations in Hobart, no one really expected du Plessis to come back with a bang in the Adelaide Test. On a day when the Australian bowlers really bowled their heart out, du Plessis was the standout performer as far as the Proteas were concerned.

Du Plessis joined Stephen Cook in the middle after the fall of Duminy’s wicket and looked in terrific nick from the outset. He played some aggressive brand of cricket and kept the scoreboard ticking along even when he kept losing partners at the other end.

The stylish right-handed batsman struck 17 fours en route to his 6th Test century as some late support in the form of Kyle Abbott and Tabraiz Shamsi allowed him to reach the three-figure mark.

4. Du Plessis’ unexpected declaration

Stand-in captain Faf du Plessis who has hogged the limelight in the recent past with his ball tampering allegations in the Hobart Test took an interesting decision during the 1st day of the Pink ball Test in Adelaide.

With the score at 259/9 and Tabraiz Shamsi supporting his skipper well, one would have easily expected Faf to bat as long as possible with Shamsi to set up a score close to 300 but that did not happen and what transpired next left everyone bemused. Du Plessis declared the innings on 259/9 making Australia bat in the last 15 overs of the day.

Du Plessis might well have been tempted to go hard at the inexperienced Australian batting line-up in the last few overs but the duo of Usman Khwaja and debutant Matt Renshaw ended the day on 14 without any loss of wickets.

The decision taken by Du Plessis might go onto cost South Africa the match, but the declaration showed the confidence Du Plessis had on his bowlers as he backed them to pick wickets.

5. Matt Renshaw and Usman Khwaja batting out the last 12 overs of the day

After the surprising declaration by Faf du Plessis, South Africa would have hoped to get at least a couple of wickets before the end of the day’s play but the duo of Usman Khwaja and Matt Renshaw played out the stipulated 12 overs without losing a wicket.

Apart from the two exquisite boundaries struck by Renshaw, the Aussies were quite sedating in their approach but were good enough to survive the initial burst from Philander, Abbott and Rabada.

It was a testing time for the duo as the Proteas pacers bowled with steam but without any success. Both the batsmen would look to consolidate on a good start and take Australia to a position of strength by the end of Day 2.

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