After a day and a half of waiting through rain and darkness, play finally resumed at the Sydney Cricket Ground
That’s stumps on Day 4. South Africa trail by 326 and face a massive challenge to avoid the follow-on tomorrow. Australia did as expected and went for the win via the jugular. They took six wickets in two sessions. Can they claim 14 in three sessions tomorrow? A mouthwatering feast of final day Test cricket awaits. Join us from 9am – or head to the SCG for the price a gold coin admission – and we’ll dive in together. Look out for Geoff Lemon’s incoming match report shortly and thanks for joining us. Until we meet again on the morrow… happy trails!
59th over: South Africa 149-6 (Jansen 10, Harmer 6) Josh Hazlewood starts his final over of the day with his fastest delivery yet – a 142kph rocket which Simon Harmer parries to safety. He scurries to the other end and leaves Marco Jansen to see out the final four bullets. Or not. Jansen clips a run off his left hip and leaves Harmer to see off the final two. Rookie error by Harmer. He should’ve been leaning on his bat and looking in the opposite direction. Still, he survives to stumps and he heads into the long shadows of the Members Stand – and safety.
58th over: South Africa 147-6 (Jansen 9, Harmer 5) Tall and resolute, Marco Jansen squares up to Nathan Lyon, shuffling across to tap back the first three. But he goes too far to the fourth and the ball finds the gap between both pads and just misses the pegs. There’s an appeal but it’s muted. So too for the sixth which skids on and skims the right pad. Wonderful over. Every ball asked a different question. Jansen didn’t get any of them right but gets a point for courage under fire (and neat handwriting). Final over coming up.
57th over: South Africa 147-6 (Jansen 9, Harmer 5) The ever-generous Pat Cummins has regifted Harmer on strike to his NSW teammate Josh Hazlewood. Will the man known as “The Bendemeer Bullet” have a bunny for his tea? Or can Harmer, a 33-year-old eight-Test rookie, hang on until stumps? He goes one better and clips Hazlewood’s wider fifth delivery off his pads to the rope.
56th over: South Africa 143-6 (Jansen 9, Harmer 1) There will be three overs after this Nathan Lyon over. Marco Jansen craves only to survive. He blocks and fends at the first fiver as they duck and dive around him and misses the last. That’s a gift for the skipper who will now have rabbit Harmer in his headlights.
55th over: South Africa 143-6 (Jansen 9, Harmer 1) Simon Harmer is the new batsman but a decidedly sheepish one. He didn’t sign up for this when selected to spin a few in the final Test of the series. Marco Jansen is standing tall at the striker’s end and he does a good job to defend the over from Cummins and dash for a single from the last to retain the strike and let his new partner get his bearings.
54th over: South Africa 133-6 (Jansen 4, Harmer 1) For once the heavens aren’t closing in but the Australians certainly are. Lyon is pinning the Proteas batters at one end while Cummins plucks their wings off at the other. With five overs remaining will we see a final flurry from Pat Cummins who has 3-24 from his 13 overs and a hunger for more?
53 over: South Africa 133-6 (Jansen 4, Harmer 1) In his fifth over of his second spell Cummins has now taken two wickets for eight runs. It’s been a masterclass of fast bowling and inspired captaincy. Verreyne had to play at that one but it was a throat ball with demonic intent. He went back when he perhaps should have pushed forward and caught a thick edge which Steve Smith swallowed.
52nd over: South Africa 133-5 (Jansen 1, Verreyne 18) After all the heavy weather of the past few days, the Australians are lighting up the Sydney Cricket Ground with their own brilliance. Lyon is finding vicious turn at one end and Pat Cummins is in the middle of a blistering spell at the other. Runs hav e become immaterial, only survival is paramount now. Marco Jansen looks nervous and almost lobs a return catch to Cummins. But the screws are tightening…
52nd over: South Africa 133-5 (Jansen 1, Verreyne 18) After the fastbowling fireworks from the other end it’s time for the style and guile of Nathan Lyon. His third ball to Jansen hits an airpocket and drops like a rock before viciously jagging into the pads of Jansen. There’s a huge appeal, enough to review. A review shows it might’ve hit the stumps but it was, and remains, umpires call so Marcos Jansen survives and the Australians retain the review. Close thing tough.
51st over: South Africa 133-5 (Jansen 1, Verreyne 18) Pat Cummins is on fire and Marco Jansen is in trouble. He’s been struck on the arm twice in succession by Cummins thunderbolts delivered at over 140kph. Batting way out of his crease, the tall Proteas bowler blocks the inevitable fuller ball that follows and gratefully escapes for a single. Verreyne is the far more accomplished batter but he too is nearly undone by a Cummins cannonball that rears off the pitch, catches the edge and falls just short of the school of sharks in the infield. Inspiring spell from the captain.
49th over: South Africa 130-5 (Zondo 39, Verreyne 16) Superb bowling from Cummins. He took the ball to force the issue and again has led from the front, bending his back from around the wicket to beat Khaya Zondo’s bat on the inside channel and send a straightening ball careering into his pads. Zondo appealed the decision but it was straight enough for the third umpire. Zondo was understandably miffed but seemed to be appealing against the light as he walked off and faded to black. Sorry Khaya, that light at the end of the tunnel you sought was the express train from Penrith AKA Patrick James Cummins.
48th over: South Africa 130-5 (Zondo 39, Verreyne 16) Labuschagne is vigorously warming up (but then again he always is) and shining the cherry in his armpit. Right now his captain is oblivious to the hint and has eyes only for extracting Khaya Zondo. Which he may have done as a ball thunders into the pads of Zondo. It’s been given out but the Proteas will review…
48th over: South Africa 130-4 (Zondo 39, Verreyne 16) Lyon’s 20th over is treated with respect until Verreyne switches his wrists and reverse sweeps sweetly to the boundary in front of the old Members Stand. That won’t displease Lyon. He’s trying to tempt the South African batters into recklessness by hanging the ball out wider and dropping it from a higher arc. Verreyne helps himself to two from the final delivery.
47th over: South Africa 124-4 (Zondo 39, Verreyne 10) Pat Cummins was pleased by the attack from the Proteas batters against Lyon last over. The light towers may have sharpened the view and the effort balls may have softened the ball. At four wickets down it’s a high-risk strategy from the visitors but at 351 runs behind and with just over a day remaining they’re trying to salvage some pride.
46th over: South Africa 121-4 (Zondo 37, Verreyne 10) The lights are on at the Sydney Cricket Ground as South Africa trail by 356 runs and Australia drill down on a fine first session of play where they decapitated the Proteas top order again. Nathan Lyon’s first over after drinks draws two near-catches, one a long hop swat that falls short of Matt Renshaw on the boundary and the second narrowly skirting the outstretched paw of Ashton Agar at midwicket. This dervish will excite both teams as South Africa chase runs and Australia hunt wickets.
45th over: South Africa 112-4 (Zondo 31, Verreyne 6) The beauty of being a bowling captain is when you want the ball your teammates will give it to you. Here comes Cummins to Kyle Verreyne, running in hard with the ball cleverly concealed in his left hand before that familiar late transfer to the right just before the leap. It’s bamboozled the world’s best batters and it has Verreyne playing cautiously. He plays out a maiden as Australia up the ante in a bid for fast wickets tonight and a feeding frenzy of wickets on day five of this Test.
44th over: South Africa 112-4 (Zondo 31, Verreyne 6) With only 16 overs remaining in the day, it’ll be Lyon skipping jauntily in for his 18th. Zondo has his dander up now, having cantered through his twenties with a few lusty blows. Will Lyon tempt him into a heave down the ground where he has men waiting? Or will the offie try to pin him in the crease to fend a ball down the gullet of Marnus Labuschagne in close? Cummins isn’t waiting. He’s taken the ball.
43rd over: South Africa 111-4 (Zondo 31, Verreyne 6) Seems a wicket slipped off the scorecard for a bit there. Sorry to gloating Australians and apologies to smarting South African supporters. The Proteas are four wickets down but they are starting to swing for the fences here. We saw Nathan Lyon dispatched into the Victor Trumper stand in the last over and now Khaya Zondo has smashed Josh Hazlewood to the rope. After crawling into double figures those boundaries have catapulted him into the thirties with close to a 50 strike rate.
42nd over: South Africa 107-4 (Zondo 27, Verreyne 6) Nathan Lyon is digging deep into his bag of tricks but Khaya Zondo is up to the challenge. He hoiks Lyon 83-metres deep into the stands where it’s caught by a heavily tattooed gent with a marvellous skullett. Good catch but a better shot from Zondo who has two sixes in his 27. Lyon has now been blasted over the fence four times this innings.
41st over: South Africa 100-3 (Zondo 20, Verreyne 6) The SCG is abuzz again. They have an ancient rival on the ropes, a hometown hero thundering in with two notches in his belt already and no sign of rain on the horizon. Ashton Agar brings them alive with a fast throw to the bowler’s end as Zondo scampered a chancy single from a glance into gully. Replays show a direct hit would’ve had him. It wasn’t Zondo’s call and he’s clearly not seen the Agar sizzle reel of fielding marvels from T20 and one-day cricket. Verreyne has eyes only for Hazelwood. he pulls a four from the fourth and a single from the fifth to take five in total, retain the strike and send Hazlewood’s figures spiralling to 2-19 from nine overs.
40th over: South Africa 92-3 (Zondo 19, Verreyne 0) Thanks to comrade Hazlewood, Lyon has fresh meat for his fork. Zondo isn’t bothered by th threat it seems, he takes Lyon’s third delivery and crisply rolls his wrists over it on the up, lifting it over the fence. Nice shot. After 51 deliveries, Zondo has had enough ‘sighters’ is going to go down swinging. Will he be as brave against Hazlewood?
38th over: South Africa 85-3 (Zondo 12, Verreyne 0) That was gorgeous bowling from Hazlewood and canny captaincy from Cummins. Bavuma was well set and starting to master the spinners until the big quick returned and slid a ball into the thin red line outside off. Bavuma had to play at it and he did. But he needed the ball to straighten and instead it wobbled inward with a smidge of reverse swing, feathering the edge of the bat and sailing serenely into the gloves of Alex Carey. Now we have Kyle Verreyne coming to the crease with another rescue mission on his hands. The wicketkeeper-batter has been the Proteas best all series but he will be tested this afternoon, in fading light and a stiffening breeze, against an Australian attack that seemingly has all the answers.
38th over: South Africa 85-3 (Zondo 12, Bavuma 35) Lyon continues to Bavuma. Although he’s clattered a couple of fearsome boundaries, this duel is honours even so far. Lyon has Marnus chirping in Temba’s ear as he mutters to himself from the other end. What he wants is the nervier Zondo on strike. he gets his wish on the last but a cheeky reverse sweep for a single shows Zondo’s confidence on the up. It draws a wry smile from Lyon. Good Test cricket here.
37th over: South Africa 84-3 (Zondo 12, Bavuma 34) The line has gone slack and the South African batters suddenly look comfortable. Time for a change it is. Who else but Josh Hazlewood? This will be his seventh over after a superb spell earlier in the day. Zondo must have watched it. He wants only the non-strikers end as another maiden is added to the tally.
36th over: South Africa 84-3 (Zondo 12, Bavuma 34) Ashton Agar has 10 wickets from his two matches but his seventh over doesn’t advance the stats too much. Bavuma clips a couple and we’re due a change, Captain Cummins says…
35th over: South Africa 82-3 (Zondo 12, Bavuma 32) There’s a calm after the break. The usually festive Sydney crowd may be in a post-tea torpor after a flurry of cricket after so much waiting around. Or perhaps it’s a sign the Australian ascendency is slipping a little as Temba Bavuma leads a fightback. Lyon looks a little lethargic in this over and may be due a spell as the Proteas rotate the strike with ease and rumble the chase under 400 runs.
34th over: South Africa 80-3 (Zondo 11, Bavuma 31) It’s a switcheroo alright and we’ve got the tall lithesome form of Agar wheeling in for his sixth over. The irst two are bang on the money and Zondo is watchful. When Agar hangs the third out wide the batter lashes at it and misses. There’s murmurs of encouragement from both the ‘keeper Carey and the Sydney pitch for Agar. He’s encouraged enough to throw the final ball up and Zondo flashes again but only chops it into the infield for a single. We’ve got 25 overs left today. Where will they take us?
33rd over: South Africa 77-3 (Zondo 9, Bavuma 30) Lyon tidies things up at the other end, delivering an easygoing maiden and then tossing the ball to Agar.
32nd over: South Africa 77-3 (Zondo 9, Bavuma 30) And we’re back, and an exciting final session awaits. Technically it’s the second of the day, after we lost the first to rain, but either way Pat Cummins has decided to push the envelope. In something of surprise it’s going to be Travis Head starting us off. Clearly the skipper has forgiven Head taking his eyes off the popped chance from Bavuma in the penultimate over before tea. Maybe Travis made him a nice cuppa by way of apology? Either way he’s gone from the outhouse to the penthouse and has the ball in his hand for the first over after the break. Perhaps Cummins will simply use the sparky South Australian to give his spinners a go from opposite ends? Maybe not, after Head leaks a few runs in his first over of the day.
31st over: South Africa 71-3 (Zondo 5, Bavuma 28) After years in the white ball world, Ashton Agar is settling into the slower pace of Test cricket with aplomb. He’s found his drift and the grand old dame that is the Sydney wicket is madly batting her eyes at him, showing a hint of turn and rewarding changes of pace. Bavuma breaks the spell, bashing another boundary from Agar’s last delivery. That’s a fine fighting riposte from Bavuma who goes to tea with 28 runs from 48 deliveries and Zondo holding steady with five from 29 balls faced. Even so, with three wickets claimed – one apiece for Cummins, Hazlewood and Lyon – it’s Australia’s session. What will this final session deliver? The skies aren’t blue but they’re a bright grey so let’s hope the players decide where this Test goes next. Back in a bit, folks.
30th over: South Africa 63-3 (Zondo 4, Bavuma 22) Lyon catches the rough with his first ball and an appeal goes up. But it’s halfhearted and in his quest to have his voice heard Travis Head has missed a trick. Replays show the ball has puffed off Bavuma’s pad and grazed his glove. Head had by then turned to appeal. Definitely a catching opportunity missed there. Bavuma celebrates his good fortune by heaving Lyon’s next ball into the grandstand, a pull shot of beauty and beligerance that goes five rows back and takes the little righthander to 22.
29th over: South Africa 57-3 (Zondo 4, Bavuma 16) Better signs for the batting side here as they rotate the strike and work Agar away for a couple of singles. The run drought broke with Bavuma’s boundary in Lyon’s last over and these two now look reasonably set against the softer ball not yet causing serious peril.
28th over: South Africa 53-3 (Zondo 3, Bavuma 14) Lyon is into his eleventh over and chasing a third successive maiden for his side. Agar has dried up the runs at his end which frees Lyon up to chance his hand. he does, throwing one in short but Bavuma is onto it quickly and flogs it over the infield to the boundary. A very good shot and welcome positive intent from Bavuma whom Australian crowds have warmed to for his grit in the middle order and courage under fire this series. These will be the final overs before tea – a dangerous period for the Proteas.
27th over: South Africa 49-3 (Zondo 3, Bavuma 9) Agar has not let a run leak since his feral first ball and he now finishes his third over with a second consecutive maiden. Australia’s spinners are turning the screws here. How long will the natural attacking instincts of Bavuma and Zondo be contained?
26th over: South Africa 49-3 (Zondo 3, Bavuma 9) Lyon and Bavuma are duelling beautifully here. There’s no chance to settle against the former groundsman-turned-GOAT. He turns and hops in so quickly the batter has no chance to breathe or scope the surrounds. It’s wearying and takes its toll as a maiden is delivered, a nice gift of pressure for his spin brother Agar at the other end.
25th over: South Africa 49-3 (Zondo 3, Bavuma 9) Agar resumes and it’s a better start, the first three probing outside off. Agar hasn’t chanced much flight yet. He’s bowling quickly, looking for revs and deception off the pitch instead of subterfuge through the air. Bavuma takes that bounce and bats it over his shoulder for a single. Agar is settling nicely into what could be a lengthy spell.
24th over: South Africa 48-3 (Zondo 3, Bavuma 8) Lyon’s wheels away in his nith over but Bavuma doesn’t want any of it. There’s a cry of CATCHIT from the last but the stroke nutmegged Travis Head at silly mid on.
23rd over: South Africa 46-3 (Zondo 3, Bavuma 6) Now this will be intriguing. Ashton Agar hasn’t played a Test since 2017 and many feel he’s lucky to have jagged one here when Lance ‘Wild Thing’ Morris was keening at the leash for a run. Agar’s first ball is as rusty as an old Cortina and sent to the rope by Bavuma. The next one turns sharply though, an encouraging sign for the 29-year-old who made such an unforgettable debut at Trent Bridge in 2013. Coming in at No. 11, with Australia in a mess at 117 for 9 and only he and Phillip Hughes standing between them and oblivion, Agar whacked and wheedled a jaw-dropping 98 – the highest Test score ever by a No. 11. A glorious memory but a distant one. He’s here to bowl, with an eye to the turning wickets in India.
22nd over: South Africa 40-3 (Zondo 1, Bavuma 3) Zondo takes a wide stance outside off to Lyon’s eighth over. He fears for that off stump and is crabbing across to the Australian offie. It’s a dangerous game and Lyon will like that movement. He’s crowding Zondo and the batter is able to lean on a wider one to piece the field and find a single. Looks like Ashton Agar is coming on to bowl…
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Australia v South Africa: third Test, day four – as it happened – The Guardian
After a day and a half of waiting through rain and darkness, play finally resumed at the Sydney Cricket Ground