Bowlers keep SA on top after Elgar carries bat

Bowlers keep SA on top after Elgar carries bat

The Report by Brydon Coverdale, 1:00 AM MT, Friday, March 23, 2018, http://www.espncricinfo.com/se...-aus-tour-sa-2017-18

http://a2.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=%2Fi%2Fcricket%2Fcricinfo%2F1141411_1296x729.jpg&w=920&h=518&scale=crop&cquality=80&location=originMorne Morkel claimed his 300th Test wicket AFP

Australia 245 for 9 (Bancroft 77, Morkel 4-87, Rabada 3-81) trail South Africa 311 (Elgar 141*, De Villiers 64, Cummins 4-78) by 66 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

The second day at Newlands six years ago was unforgettable. Four innings in one day, South Africa rolled for 96, then Australia humiliated for less than half that. Nathan Lyon top scored for Australia from No.11. The difference in day two, 2011, and day two, 2018, could be neatly summed up by the fact that this time around, Lyon scored as many on his own as Australia's entire team did back then: 47. And yet, if it wasn't a car-crash-like pile-up of wickets, there were still reasons to remember this day's cricket.

It began with Dean Elgar becoming the first man in Test history to carry his bat through an innings twice in the same year, and also joining Desmond Haynes as the only men to have carried their bat three times in a Test career. It continued with Kagiso Rabada winning a breathless mini-battle with David Warner, and progressed further with Morne Morkel becoming the fifth South African to take 300 Test wickets. And the day was capped off by a counter-attack from Lyon and Tim Paine, whose 66-run ninth-wicket stand put Australia back in the contest.

At stumps, called 10 minutes early due to bad light for the second consecutive evening, Australia were 245 for 9, with Paine on 33 and Josh Hazlewood on 1. They still trailed by 66 runs after Elgar and South Africa's tail added 45 to their overnight total for the loss of their last two wickets, to take their total to 311. But from 175 for 8 not long after the tea break, Australia were at least within touch by the close of play.

Earlier, Morkel had run through Australia's middle order to firmly justify his recall after being left out for Lungi Ngidi in Port Elizabeth. Morkel has already announced that he will retire at the end of this series, but judging by this performance, he still has something to offer. Morkel's bounce troubled the Australians and he struck in his very first over, when he had Usman Khawaja caught at deep backward square leg hooking for 5 shortly before lunch.

After the break, Morkel added the wickets of Steven Smith and Shaun Marsh, and then returned late in the day to end Lyon's fighting innings to finish the day with 4 for 87 and a good chance of completing an eighth career five-wicket haul in Tests. The big breakthrough was the dismissal of Smith, whose uncharacteristically lean tour continued when he failed to get on top of the bounce from Morkel and sent a catch to Elgar at gully on 5.

Shaun Marsh added 78 for the fourth wicket with Cameron Bancroft but again failed to build on a start when he chased a wide one from Morkel and gained a thick edge through to Quinton de Kock. That marked the 300th Test wicket for Morkel, who let out a long and loud roar after joining Shaun Pollock, Dale Steyn, Makhaya Ntini and Allan Donald as the only South Africans to reach the milestone.

Bancroft played an innings full of intent, moving to his third Test half-century from 59 balls and striking 14 boundaries on his way to 77, but he missed the chance for a maiden hundred when Vernon Philander made brilliant use of seam movement to jag one back in and trap Bancroft lbw. Philander soon added Mitchell Marsh, who was caught behind for 5, and when Rabada had Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc both caught at slip cheaply a quick finish was on the cards.

But South Africa could not finish the job, and Lyon managed eight boundaries - including some truly classy drives on the up - to achieve his best Test score of 47 before skying a chance off Morkel that was brilliantly taken by Elgar running back from cover as stumps approached.

Australia's innings had started with a fascinating, if brief, contest between Rabada and Warner, two men who have each been at the centre of controversies during this series. Warner crunched five boundaries from consecutive Rabada deliveries across two overs - mostly through the off side, but one a six hooked over square leg - only to see his off stump cartwheeling like an Olympic gymnast from the very next ball when Rabada moved one from leg to off and beat the bat. In the context of a five-day Test, Warner's 30 off 14 balls was merely a cameo.

What Australia wanted from one of their openers was the kind of innings provided by Elgar, who had finished unbeaten on 141 after he and Rabada frustrated the Australians with a 50-run ninth-wicket stand. Elgar had previously batted through an entire Test innings against England in Durban in 2015, when he finished on 118, and in January this year in Johannesburg, where he finished on 86 against India.

Rabada rode his luck by attempting pulls and hooks off the fast men and struck three boundaries on his way to 22. Smith persisted with Cummins and Hazlewood for the first 10 overs of the morning, before Lyon had both Rabada and Morkel caught at slip in his first over when he was finally introduced. It would not be Lyon's only impact of the day.

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