Carey’s maiden ton and Green’s defiant fifty bury South Africa
Pat Cummins struck early with the ball before rain curtailed Australia’s final-session push
South Africa 189 and 15 for 1 trail Australia 575 for 8 dec (Warner 200, Carey 111, Smith 85, Green 51*, Head 51) by 371 runs
Alex Carey scored his maiden Test hundred as Australia piled on the runs at the MCG then removed South Africa captain Dean Elgar in the second over before rain brought an early end to the third day
Australia piled on 189 runs in 54 overs on an overcast day with Carey and Cameron Green, who defied a fractured finger, adding 117 for the eighth wicket against an increasingly exhausted attack. South Africa were kept in the field for more than five sessions and bowled 145 overs in total and were unable to bowl Australia out on a surface that remained good for batting.
Elgar was unable to take advantage of them as he gloved Pat Cummins down the leg side off the third ball he faced. The edge died on Carey but replays showed he took a clean catch low down to send Elgar back for a duck. It was the second time in the series Elgar had been dismissed in this fashion after also being caught down leg in the first innings in Brisbane.
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Australia could have done further damage when Cummins found Theunis de Bruyn’s edge in his next over but it swerved away from David Warner at first slip and he could not hold on. Mitchell Starc, who bowled despite suffering tendon damage his finger in the field on the first day, just missed Sarel Erwee’s edge and had two appeals for lbw against de Bruyn which were missing. Starc was expected to continue bowling despite his wound, which opens up as he bowls and necessitates him to mop up the blood after almost every delivery.
Starc was not the only one who battled through pain. Green also had a broken finger after being hit while batting but returned to the crease to score an unbeaten half-century and provide solid defence while Carey counterattacked. The pair ground South Africa’s attack down after a bright start. Despite bowling in 40 degree heat throughout the second day, South Africa came out with good intent and, helped by cooler conditions, struck early. They took three wickets in six balls as Anrich Nortje turned up the heat.
After Travis Head reached a 54-ball 50 with a pull off a short ball, Nortje went full and straight and took out his off stump. The dismissal brought Warner, who retired hurt with cramp after reaching 200 on day, back for more. He danced to the crease but was met by a Nortje ball that zoned in on leg stump, beat the flick and bowled him. Warner, having walked back in to a standing ovation, left to another.
Cummins found the boundary when he steered a wide Nortje ball through point and then nicked off against Kagiso Rabada. South Africa were convinced of the edge but needed to confirm it on review.
South Africa had created an opening but Carey and Green soon closed it with a stand that shut out the attack. Carey was strong on the drive and drilled Lungi Ngidi for three successive fours including the one that brought up his fifty while Green was content with biding his time as he tried to protect his finger from any further blows.
Carey brought up the Australian 500 with a top-edge off a hook shot from a Rabada bouncer and his own hundred when he ran three off Jansen. He was the first Australian wicketkeeper to score a century in nine years, since Brad Haddin in 2013. His innings ended when a popped a short delivery from Jansen straight up in the air.
By then, Green had faced 164 balls and if there was any pain, he wasn’t showing it. He had also started to play some shots and took on the short ball. He reached fifty off 170 balls with a cut over point. To add insult to injury, Starc also tucked into the bouncer and top-edged Nortje over square leg to six. In the next over, Starc was hit on the helmet and was undergoing his concussions check when Cummins called the batters in.
Australia will operate with a four-man attack for the rest of the match, with Green unable to bowl. Head and Marnus Labuschagne are expected to provide back-up if required.
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