Snapshot for day 1 of the third Test

Aubrey Yates
March 24, 2018

Faf du Plessis had won his first toss of the series and everything was going swimmingly.

Warner's failure against the high speed of Rabada was pivotal, the sight of his off stump cascading back towards the wicketkeeper a body blow from which Australia never recovered. Elgar was still at the crease on 121, but a parade of partners had been bundled out for single-figure scores, and he was left with Kagiso Rabada on 6 and only Morne Morkel still to come.

A lion-hearted spell of fast bowling from Pat Cummins propelled Australia into a position of power at stumps on day one of the third Test at Cape Town. A fifth day is unlikely to be needed here, unless the Australians can somehow find another gear. "We are trying to win a series, we will select a team to do that", Gibson said. The dismissal was so much against the run of play, so unexpected that the Newlands crowd was stunned into silence.

In a statement issued late on Friday night, acting Cricket South Africa chief executive Thabang Moroe said the events that happened earlier would not be tolerated.

Du Plessis' lean run continued when he, having moved down to No.5 to allow the in-form de Villiers to push up the order, edged Cummins to Steven Smith at second slip on 5.

Added to the spectator-friendly environment is the sporting nature of the pitch, which has seen just five drawn Tests in 28 matches since readmission.

Dean Elgar joined West Indies legend Desmond Haynes as the only two cricketers to have carried the bat three times in Test cricket
Dean Elgar joined West Indies legend Desmond Haynes as the only two cricketers to have carried the bat three times in Test cricket

De Villiers, the leading batsman in the series, looked comfortable from the start and made his 64 runs off 95 balls with ten fours.

Morkel, who will retire from global cricket after the series, took three of the first four Australian wickets to fall and became the fifth South African to join the 300 club.

The wickets kept coming. As for Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Marsh, they chipped in with one wicket each. Meanwhile, Elgar remained unbeaten after playing a stupendous knock and also carried his bat through.

Lyon (0-39 off 19) completely misjudged his attempt, with the ball hitting him in the wrist, and Elgar made Australia pay by bringing up his 11th Test century. His fifty came from 97 balls and his hundred from 178, with a boundary worked through the leg side off Mitchell Starc. Before Elgar, the only South Africa player to achieve this post-readmission was Gary Kirsten against Pakistan in Faisalabad in 1997-98. "[I] looked straight back at him [umpire] and he just started to giggle ... it was obviously very unintentional", he said.

The episode echoed former Australia fast bowler Merv Hughes' altercation with a spectator as he walked up the ramp to the dressingroom at the Wanderers in March 1994. Elgar batted through the innings for his 141 not out. Amla fell soon after the break for 31, when he failed to control a hook off Hazlewood and saw his top edge taken by Cummins in the deep.

The next dismissed batsman, Usman Khawaja, was notably offered a far-greater level of protection. The final session, though, was a different story.

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