Recent Match Report – South Africa vs Australia 2nd Test 2022/23

Tea Australia 231 for 2 (Warner 135*, Smith 60*, Rabada 1-61) leads South Africa 189 by 42 runs

David Warner scored a century in his 100th Test to push Australia into the lead at the MCG and end a period of poor form for himself. The century was Warner’s first in Test cricket since January 2020, as well as the first in 28 innings, and came amid questions over his long-format future.
Prior to this Test, Warner had promised to end his lean run by returning to an aggressive approach and he stayed true to his word. In temperatures touching 40 degrees, Warner batted with energy and intensity, ran hard, and pierced gaps to take the Test, and potentially the series, away from South Africa.
He did not do the job alone. Steven Smith, who brought up a half-century of his own by him, was at the other end. By tea, their third-wicket partnership had grown to 156 at a scoring rate of 3.5 runs to the over. It’s the biggest partnership between the two in Test cricket. Overall, Australia have notched up 186 runs in 51 overs on day two, scoring at 3.65 and grinding South Africa’s bowlers down in the process. They found the edge on occasion in the morning session but failed to threaten as the day went on and, on a good batting strip, could still be out on the field for a long time.
Australia were underway on the third ball of the morning when Marnus Labuschagne was lured into a drive by Anrich Nortje and edged wide of the slips. Warner opened his account in more convincing fashion when he square cut Kagiso Rabada’s first ball, a short delivery, for four. Australia scored 29 runs off the first 6.2 overs of the morning and South Africa seemed to have conceded the advantage early on but they found their way back through a mix-up.
Warner called Labuschagne through for a second run but Labuschagne had overshot the first and had to make up a lot of ground. That gave Keshav Maharaj time to throw the ball to Nortje, who was bowling, and he found Labuschagne short of his ground. That was the only success South Africa had in the first two sessions.
In the next over, Warner reached his fifty off the 72nd ball he faced, with a single to the covers, and Smith was off the mark with a well-timed cover drive. Rabada and Nortje made minimal impact upfront, so it was up to the change bowlers to try and create something and they almost did. Lungi Ngidi found Warner’s edge with his third ball, but it flew past gully for four, and Marco Jansen drew Smith forward and got a healthy nick, but it fell short of second slip. Then, Smith offered a genuine chance when he gloved Jansen down leg. Kyle Verreynne made good ground to his left but could not hold on, before Warner inside edged Ngidi past the stumps.

All those half-chances meant nothing as Warner reached 8000 Test runs when he ran four for the third time in the innings after driving Maharaj, brought on in the 32nd over, through the covers. So far, Warner has also run seven threes, eight twos and 46 singles in an impressive display of batting fitness as he battled his way back to form.

The afternoon heat meant South Africa had to use Maharaj at one end and rotate the quicks from the other. Smith liked the idea and hit the first six of the innings, over long-on, in Maharaj’s first over after lunch.

Nortje was the first seamer asked to have a burst. He kept his pace up at around the 151kph mark, and even reached 155kph with one delivery. But even at that speed, neither the bouncer nor the yorker could find its way through. Rabada was brought on next, and after his expensive morning spell, and Warner pulled his first ball to fine leg to bring up his century, off 144 balls, and celebrated with a fist pump and a leap. Rabada kept going for four overs, and thought he had Smith in his final one, but he had overstepped on the delivery. Smith appeared to get glove on the attempted pull.

Ngidi took over and remained the bowler with the most control, before Jansen’s turn came. He offered width to allow Smith to cut him past point and bring up fifty off 108 balls.

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