South Africa ramped up the pressure on a troubled Australia in the final cricket test on Saturday by making 488 and quickly removing the three batsmen rushed into the team because of the ball-tampering scandal. Australia, with its morale in pieces following the cheating saga of the last week, was 110-6 and 378 runs behind at stumps on the second day of the series decider at the Wanderers.
Openers Matthew Renshaw, Joe Burns, and Peter Handscomb all played their first games of the series and all failed in Australia’s reply. Renshaw and Burns arrived in South Africa less than 48 hours before the test. The three were replacements for the three players banned and sent home in disgrace for the ball-tampering plot.
Burns went for 4, Renshaw for 8, and Handscomb for a duck as Australia sunk to 38-3. Usman Khawaja top-scored with 53. South Africa lived up to its promise to be ruthless against an Australia without captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner, and batsman Cameron Bancroft, all banned long-term for cheating in the third test last weekend.
The day began with South Africa resuming on 313-6 and Temba Bavuma going from 25 to 95 not out, missing out on a second test century only when he ran out of partners. Tailender Keshav Maharaj thumped 45 from 51 balls but swiped at a wide delivery to be caught by wicketkeeper and new Australia captain Tim Paine as Bavuma was approaching his hundred. Morne Morkel, playing his last test before retiring, was out first ball to leave Bavuma stranded.
Morkel’s arrival at the crease prompted Australia to make a second gesture of goodwill in the test, by applauding him. On Friday, before play started on the first day, captain Paine asked the South Africans if they’d like to shake hands ahead of the game _ not a common practice in cricket. The South Africans agreed.
But Australia was still heading for an on-field embarrassment in a week of humiliation.Burns edged Kagiso Rabada to second slip for the first wicket down, with du Plessis taking a diving catch. Renshaw edged Vernon Philander to wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock. Handscomb played on to Philander.
Khawaja and Shaun Marsh put on 52 but Khawaja’s departure to a catch up at the stumps off Philander by de Kock sparked a collapse.
Mitchell Marsh was bowled by Morkel for 4 and Shaun Marsh dismissed by spinner Keshav Maharaj on 16. Khawaja and the Marsh brothers all fell in the space of five overs.
Australia is in danger of losing a test series in South Africa for the first time since 1970. South Africa leads 2-1.