Australia take 1-0 lead against South Africa with 6-wicket win at Brisbane
Australia defeated South Africa by 6 wickets inside two days to take a vital 1-0 lead in their ongoing three-match series in what turned out to be a pacers-dominated contest on a green-top wicket, something which was extremely challenging for batsmen from both the teams with only the hosts crossing the 200-run mark once in the four innings.
The pitch at the Gabba cricket ground in Brisbane is traditionally a pace-friendly surface with extra bounce and carry for the fast bowlers, but with more amount of grass left on the pitch by the curators, the fast bowlers from both Australia and South Africa — two of the world’s best fast bowling attack at the moment — got additional benefits.
And on a challenging pitch with both the sides equally matched as far as their bowling attacks are concerned, South Africa did look inferior on the batting front as they were shot out for 152 and 99 in the two innings.
But at the same time, Travis Head produced a magnificent knock of 92 in the first innings for Australia who not only took a crucial lead of 66 runs but also kept South Africa under the pump.
South Africa, who batted first, were bowled out for just 152 in 48.2 overs with Mitchell Starc taking 3/41, Pat Cummins taking 2/35, Scott Boland claiming a couple of wickets for 28 runs while the great Australian spin bowler Nathan Lyon returning with surprising numbers of 8-2-14-3.
For the visiting side, it was Kyle Verreynne with 64 from 96 balls studded with 8 boundaries and a six saving the blushes, as most of their batsmen flopped against some hostile bowling from the Australian attack. Temba Bavuma fought long and hard for his 38 but he was cleaned up by Mitchell Starc who went on to complete his 300 Test wickets in the second innings.
In their reply, Australia also made a shaky start using the top order quickly with David Warner being dismissed on the first ball of the innings. Steve Smith with a 68 ball 36 and Travis Head steadied the ship for the home team who ended the first day’s play at 145/5, only seven runs behind the South African total.
While it was unfortunate for Travis Head to not be able to complete a deserving century, his innings ensured that Australian bowlers had enough runs to bowl when South Africa came out to bat in the second innings.
For South Africa, Kagiso Rabada returned with 17.3-1-76-4, Marco Jansen took 3/32, Lungi Ngidi claimed 1 for 35 while Anrich Nortje took 2/52.
With 66 runs conceded in the first innings as lead, South Africa had the chance to improve with the bat since there was a lot of time left in the contest. But once again, their batting collapsed miserably with Pat Cummins leading from the front with a 5-wicket haul. The Australian captain recorded figures of 12.4-3-42-5 while the likes of Mitchell Starc and Scott Boland took a couple of wickets each as South Africa were bowled out for just 99 in 37.4 overs.
Khaya Zondo played some attractive strokes to remain unbeaten on 36 from 85 balls with six boundaries while Temba Bavuma once again presented a strong case for himself, making 29 from 61 balls with 3 boundaries.
With only 34 runs required to win, Australia were rocked by Kagiso Rabada once again who claimed 4 wickets in 4 overs for just 13 runs to reduce them to 24/4 at one stage. However, the home team was able to go past the finish line and seal a challenging but deserving victory to head into the Boxing Day Test with a vital 1-0 lead.