Ponting Waits His Turn As Wickets Tumble At The WACA
Wickets tumbled on the opening day of the third and final Test between Australia and South Africa at the WACA in Perth, as both sides wrestled to take control of the match.
After Nathan Lyon took three wickets, South Africa were bowled out for 225 despite another unbeaten knock from Francois du Plessis and in reply, Australia closed on 33 for two.
There was a humourous moment late in the final session when the crowd rose to acclaim Ricky Ponting's arrival at the crease at the fall of Australia's second wicket before realising that Nathan Lyon had instead strolled out as nightwatchman.
Du Plessis, fresh from scoring a brilliant unbeaten century to save the second Test, made a fluent 78 in 142 balls as South Africa recovered from 75 for six.
The Proteas handed a debut to Dean Elgar and recalls to Vernon Philander and Robin Peterson while Australia recalled Shane Watson, Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc as well as giving John Hastings his first start.
South Africa won the toss and chose to bat but were quickly in trouble as Australia's four-pronged pace attack shared the wickets between them to run through the top order.
Watson struck first to have Graeme Smith caught by Michael Clarke for 16, Starc bowled Alviro Petersen for 30 and Jacques Kallis for two, Hastings had AB de Villiers (4) caught by Clarke and Mitchell Johnson had Dean Elgar caught behind without scoring.
Hashim Amla was run out by David Warner for 11 but du Plessis was able to keep the runs flowing thanks to excellent support from Peterson, who made 31 in 45 balls and Philander, whose 30 came from 54 balls.
Du Plessis boosted his Test average to 266 by hitting 12 fours in another act of defiance during an innings of class - he played with the authority and grace of a man who has played as many Tests as Ponting or Kallis, particularly with his crisp, precise driving through the off side and a couple of dismissive pull shots.
The only way through for Australia was to take the wickets of his partners to end the innings; it was off-spinner Lyon who did the trick, dismissing both Peterson and Philander and then having Morne Morkel (17) caught by Hastings after Dale Steyn was bowled by Johnson for two.
Lyon returned three for 41, Johnson two for 54, Starc two for 55, Watson one for 22 and Hastings one for 51.
South Africa bounced back immediately when Ed Cowan was caught by Smith as he pushed firmly at Steyn from the first ball he faced.
It got even better for the tourists when Philander had Watson trapped in front for 10 soon after. South Africa were intiially a little cautious over reviewing what looked like an obvious leg before shout but made the right decision.
The amusement surrounding Lyon's entry soon gave way to application and concentration and he did a fine job, making seven in 22 balls with Warner unbeaten on 12 at the other end having also applied himself well against a testing new ball spell from Steyn and Philander.
The opening Test in Brisbane was also drawn, leaving the series tantalisingly poised and with the match well advanced already, there is every chance that in this winner-takes-all contest, there will indeed be a winner.
© Cricket World 2012
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