Carey scores 111, South Africa in dire straits vs Australia
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Dean Elgar’s weary South Africa side faces a difficult task to avoid a big defeat in the second test against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground with two days of play remaining.
South Africa reached 15-1 in its second innings at stumps Wednesday, still requiring 371 more runs to make Australia bat again. Given that South Africa has failed to score 200 in its previous three innings in this series, and its leading batsman and captain Elgar is already back in the sheds, the odds are against the touring team.
Only seven overs were bowled in the evening session before rain interrupted play, sparing South Africa further misery on day three.
South Africa had lost Elgar for a duck in the second over as rival captain Pat Cummins struck a key blow, removing the left-hander caught behind off the glove.
Theunis de Bruyn, dropped at slip on three, is not out on six with Sarel Erwee on seven.
Resuming Wednesday on 386-3, Australia declared at tea on 575-8 in reply to South Africa’s first innings of 189.
Wicketkeeper Alex Carey scored his maiden test century for Australia, hitting 13 boundaries in his tally of 111. Carey and Cameron Green (51 not out), who showed admirable composure against the short ball despite nursing a broken finger, shared a century stand for the eighth wicket.
“I probably came out at a good moment when the bowlers were probably pretty tired,” Carey said.
He said it was a special moment to have his good friend Green at the crease when he reached his maiden century.
“To see him throw his arms out meant a lot to me. We’ve formed a really good relationship on the field but also off the field,” Carey said. “It was huge courage from him.”
South Africa bowling coach Charl Langeveldt said South Africa’s only hope to save the match would be to “bat time.”
“We take it hour by hour. If we can bat two days, that would be brilliant,” he said.
Langeveldt said Anrich Nortje (3-92 off 25 overs) “bowled with a lot of heat” but pace spearhead Kagiso Rabada (2-144 off 28 overs) needed to work on his control.
“The guys put in the effort. The only problem is just our control,” Langeveldt said. “Kagiso wasn’t on song.”
Earlier, South Africa started strongly as Nortje struck twice in the third over of the day, bowling Travis Head (51) and David Warner (200) in consecutive deliveries.
Warner, who had retired hurt with leg cramps Tuesday, returned at the fall of the fourth wicket but lasted only one delivery, playing all around a full toss which crashed onto his stumps via his back pad at 395-5.
In the following over, Rabada dismissed Cummins caught behind for four.
Nathan Lyon (25) was out hooking at 440-7, before Carey and Green piled it on against the South Africa’s bowlers.
Opener Warner dominated day two by scoring his 25th test century, reaching 200 in 37 degrees Celsius (99 Fahrenheit) heat.
Warner, who had not scored a century since January 2020, returned to form in typically aggressive style, becoming the second player in test cricket to reach 200 in his 100th test match.
Australia leads the three-match series 1-0 and can clinch the series with victory in Melbourne, although the home side’s bowling attack has been weakened by injury.
Medium-pacer Green is unlikely to bowl again in the match because of a broken finger and pace spearhead Mitchell Starc is nursing a finger-tendon injury on his bowling hand which could result in him playing a limited role in South Africa’s second innings. Starc has taken 0-13 off four overs.
“It’s going to be tough to take those next nine wickets,” Carey said.
He said Starc was bowling with a good rhythm.
“He came in and bowled mid-140s (kilometers an hour, about 85 mph) and swung it,” Carey said. “The way that he’s bowling, I don’t have too many concerns for this match.”
Green, who claimed a career-best 5-27 in South Africa’s first innings, has been ruled out for the third test in Sydney beginning Jan. 4. Starc is also expected to miss the match due to injury.
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