Australia have given themselves a chance of claiming a series whitewash after ripping through South Africa’s top order on Day 4 of the Sydney Test.
Pat Cummins (3/29) and Josh Hazlewood (2/29) starred with the ball as the Proteas’ finished at 6/149 by stumps.
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The day began in disappointing fashion for Usman Khawaja though, who was not afforded the chance to bring up his double century.
Australian captain Pat Cummins opted to declare at 4/475 before play began on Saturday, meaning Khawaja could not build on his 195-run total.
Australia have declared with Usman Khawaja just five runs short of a double century…
— 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐒𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐍𝐞𝐰𝐬 Australia (@sportingnewsau) January 7, 2023
Whilst the call was unpopular amongst some fans, it arguably turned out to be the right team decision, with Australia able to do some damage with the ball on a shortened day of play.
Once play began in the early afternoon, Hazlewood struck first by dismissing Dean Elgar for 22 runs, adding to the South Africa captain’s lacklustre tour of Australia.
Nathan Lyon was then rewarded for some strong bowling when Sarel Erwee let the ball hit his stumps in an instance of poor judgment.
Australia’s two-pronged fast bowling attack of Hazlewood and Cummins then continued to do damage, leaving the home side with just four low-order wickets remaining to bowl the visitors out.
Should they achieve that relatively quickly on Sunday, Australia will likely enforce the follow-on as they look to notch what appeared to be an unlikely win in a rain-affected Test.
“Yeah, I think [14 wickets on the final day is achievable],” Hazlewood told media post-match.
“From what we saw today, the wicket looked quite nice with [Lyon] bowling into the rough.
“I think for Ashton [Agar] and [Lyon], it’ll be a big day for them with the ball spinning in and a number of lefties and righties at either end.”
A shocker of a leave from Sarel Erwee!
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) January 7, 2023
Hazlewood also shared that a follow-on is almost certain tomorrow, with time to be of the essence.
“I don’t think there’s much of an option tomorrow!” he said.
“I think we’ll be out there for the entire day regardless.
“We’ll hope to keep them under [275 runs] and go again.”