Australia’s bowlers ripped through South Africa’s brittle batting lineup for the second consecutive day as the hosts stormed to a six-wicket victory in the first Test in a wild opening to the three-Test series that saw 34 wickets fall inside two days.
On a green, grassy pitch offering plenty of assistance for bowlers, wickets again tumbled at the Gabba on Sunday as Australia was bowled out for 218 shortly before lunch on the second day, to take a 66-run lead after the first innings, before skittling South Africa’s batting lineup again in the second innings for 99.
Pat Cummins took five wickets to lead the hosts’ attack, with Scott Boland and Mitchell Starc claiming two each, with the latter taking his 300th test wicket just before lunch.
In keeping with the pattern of the match, Australia made heavy work in chasing the modest 34 runs needed for victory, losing four wickets before Marnus Labuschagne and Cameron Green completed the job on the final ball of the 8th over.
Kagiso Rabada (4-13) took all four wickets to fall in Australia’s second innings as the hosts top-order stumbled, including David Warner, who was caught at slip for three which will further the speculation on his place in the team heading into the Boxing Day Test at Melbourne.
Earlier Sunday, Rabada took three wickets, despite some wayward bowling, to finish with 4-76, while Marco Jansen (3-32) took the key wickets of Travis Head and Cameron Green within three balls to end a dangerous looking counterattack by the hosts and keep the tourists firmly in the game after the first innings.
Jansen first had Green (18) edging through a sharp chance to Maharaj at third slip, who could only parry the ball up for Sarel Erwee to complete the catch running around from his first slip position.
Two balls later Jansen got the big-wicket of Head, who fell in the nineties for the second time in three tests this summer, when he was caught behind down the leg side after the merest of touches off his glove.
Head made 92 off 96 balls, with 13 boundaries and a six, in his usual counter-punching style and appeared to be the only batsman to appear comfortable with the tricky Gabba pitch conditions.
Lungi Ngidi (1-35) removed Starc with a sharp caught and bowled chance for 14, before Rabada removed Cummins and Nathan Lyon for ducks to ensure their was no wag in Australia’s tail.
The hosts would have been disappointed to have not built a bigger lead but Cummins ensured that the final 20 minutes of the session were fruitful by trapping Dean Elgar (2) leg before in the second over.
Australia doubled-down on its breakthrough with Starc (2-26) taking his 300th Test wicket in trademark style by bowling van der Dussen for a duck through the gate with an inswinging delivery.
Starc is the seventh Australian to achieve the 300-wicket milestone.
After lunch, Khaya Zondo (36 not out) and Temba Bavuma showed some brief resistance to whittle away Australia’s lead but Nathan Lyon struck having Bavuma trapped lbw to trigger a collapse of 6 wickets for just 22 runs.
Boland (2-14) struck twice in the next over to remove Kyle Verreynne and Marco Jansen for ducks, before Keshav Maharaj (16) was caught behind off Starc.
Cummins took the remaining three wickets for his eighth five-wicket haul to set up what appeared a modest target of 34 runs for victory.
On Saturday, Head shared a 117-run partnership with Steve Smith (38) to help guide Australia to 145-5 at stumps and justify Pat Cummins’ gamble to bowl first after winning the toss.
Overhead and ground conditions were perfect for bowling early and the green, grassy pitch at the Gabba was well exploited by both attacks, with 15 falling in the day as Australia bowled out South Africa for 152 and then stumbled early in its reply.
Resuming at 145-5 on Sunday, Head and Green took Australia past South Africa’s fist innings of 152 and appeared to be building a prosperous partnership before Jansen took both their wickets in three balls to stem the flow of runs and continue the flurry of wickets at the Gabba.
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