Head strong for Australia after South Africa batting woes continue

By Sports Desk December 17, 2022

South Africa were bowled out for less than 200 for the fifth successive Test innings, before an unbeaten 78 from Travis Head helped put Australia in a strong position in the first Test at The Gabba.

Dean Elgar's team were torn apart by Australia's bowling attack on day one as the Proteas were dismissed inside 50 overs for just 152.

The hosts also wobbled initially on a fast pitch, but Head and Steve Smith (36) steadied the ship from 27-3, though a couple of late wickets gave South Africa some hope of getting back into the game.

A tentative start from the tourists saw them reduced to 27-4, and things could have been significantly worse had it not been for a partnership of 98 between Temba Bavuma and Kyle Verreyne, before the former was bowled by Mitchell Starc for 38.

That began another batting collapse, with Verreyne eventually falling to Nathan Lyon for 62 as the tail failed to wag.

South Africa struck immediately in reply though as David Warner struggled with a short delivery from Kagiso Rabada off the first ball of the Australian first innings and was caught well by Khaya Zondo for a golden duck.

Marnus Labuschagne (11) edged Marco Jansen's first ball into the hands of Elgar before Usman Khawaja (11) also nudged an Anrich Nortje delivery to sub Simon Harmer in the slips.

After a reprieve when a review showed an edge had dropped just short of Elgar, Head took full advantage as he brought up his half-century off just 48 balls.

A partnership of 117 with Smith was ended by Nortje before the close as he sent a terrific delivery into Smith's stumps, before Rabada dismissed nightwatchman Scott Boland (1) off the last ball of the day, though Head remained unbeaten on 78 from just 77 balls as Australia closed on 145-5.

Balanced Aussie bowling downs Proteas

The key to a potent bowling attack – especially in Test cricket – is teamwork and variation, and Australia have that in spades.

South Africa's was an innings of two halves, with Starc (3-41), Pat Cummins (2-35) and Boland (2-28) all picking up early wickets, before the consistent spin of Lyon mopped things up, with the 35-year-old ending with figures of 3-14.

Head leads the way

It has been a very interesting innings from Head, looking nervous after scoring just two from his first 16 deliveries, before deciding to just go for it and smashing 51 from his next 32.

He even brought up his 50 with a six down the leg side, making a mockery of the struggles experienced by almost every other batsman on day one, ending with 14 boundaries (13 fours) to his name by the close.

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