David Warner’s heroics was the centrepiece on Day Two of the Boxing Day Test, battling heat, cramps, and exhaustion to score a double century in his 100th Test match.
The opener combined mainly with Steve Smith to grind the tourists down on a hot day at the MCG as Australia raced ahead to a 197-run lead at stumps, finishing 3/386.
Here are the moments that mattered from the second day of the Boxing Day Test.
Marnus squanders a chance as Warner passes 50
Resuming on Day Two at 1/45, David Warner returned to the crease on 32* and continued to push on and score freely, he continued to make the most of his time in the middle in his 100th Test match. Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada would be the first to resume and fight pace and fire with the Australian batters, matching the searing heat of the day with the raw pace.
The pair, Warner and Labuschagne reached their 50-run stand for the second wicket after Warner was hit on the helmet by a rising delivery from Nortje which went away to the boundary for four leg byes.
He was back up and going after a quick assessment by the medical staff and continued to hunt runs. He pushed a single out to deep mid-wicket and then tried to rush back for two after the overthrow.
Looking to steal the extra run, Labuschagne had run too far off the square leaving him too much of a turning circle to make it back for the second run following some late calling and awful confusion between the two batters as Nortje threw down the stumps.
Warner passed 50 in the next over, raising his bat for the first time since the second innings at Lahore in March and for the fourth time at the MCG.
Warner crosses landmark to move further up the list of all-time Australian greats
As he chased down more special milestones in a milestone game, Warner moved further up the list of elite Australian batters when he crossed the 8,000 run milestone shortly before the lunch break. As Steve Smith was locked in a battle with the towering Marco Jansen, challenging both edges and finding movement on a pitch backed by the hot weather, Warner continued pushing closer and closer to the milestone he had waited over three years for.
The moment came not long after the lunch break. After a quick and testing spell from Nortje, Warner comfortably tucked a pull shot off his hip from a loose first ball from Rabada which made its way to the boundary for four. Bringing up his third Boxing Day Test century and 25th overall in his career.
Warner joined Ricky Ponting as the only other Australian batter to score a century in their 100th Test match, and the 10th player overall to score a hundred in their milestone Test match.
South African fortunes tumble as Smith and Warner grind tourists down in the oppressive sun
For only the third time since they returned to the Australian team post-sandpaper gate, Warner and Smith’s partnership out in the middle became reminiscent of immovable objects for South Africa. As the temperatures continued to rise, the more comfortable the Aussie pair got, as they took Australia into the lead shortly after drinks in the second session of day two.
The heat factor was having a big impact on the days’ proceedings with all the South African bowlers spending time off the field and being rotated in short and sharp spells. The South African bowlers created few chances but when they were created, they were either evaded by the Australians or put down behind the stumps, with wicketkeeper Kyle Verreynne dropping both Steve Smith on nine down the leg side and Warner on 121.
Towering quick Nortje was in the thick of the action for the wrong reasons when he was felled by a flying “Spidercam” traveling at pace, sending the bowler down to all fours. Thankfully he was okay to continue on.
Warner himself, known as one of the fittest cricketers in the game today, even in the twilight of his career, cramped up and required treatment out on the ground.
The pair continued mostly untroubled, reaching tea at 2/231 with Smith and Warner’s partnership growing beyond 150 and eventually 200.
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Lead reaches three figures as Smith falls short
The Smith and Warner partnership clicked over 200 runs and Australia’s lead grew beyond 100 as the batters looked to put the foot down. Both batters began to find the boundary with ease as they continued to grind the tourists into the dirt. Both batters not giving any chances as the tourists continued searching for a breakthrough, burning a review in the process.
The 239 run stand came to a close with the first ball after drinks, when Smith out of nowhere, dabbed a ball from Nortje into the waiting hands of Theunis de Bruyn at gully. Smith, who battled earlier in his innings against Jansen, looked untroubled and was moving towards what would have been another Test century but would go back for 85.
Warner doubles down, retires hurt
With an edge passed a flying Jansen at slip that trickled down to the boundary for four, David Warner brought up another Boxing Day Test moment to savour. Reaching his third double-century in Test cricket and becoming the second player behind Joe Root to score a double-century in their 100th Test match.
Battling the heat, cramps, and exhaustion, Warner, who looked visibly and physically distressed after spending the whole day out in the middle of the heat at the MCG, sunk to his knees, saluted the crowd, his teammates, and his family, and let the emotion out.
The customary Warner leap would prove a bridge too far, as he again was felled with full body cramps, once again lying on the ground in pain and exhausted. He was helped off the ground by the physio to a standing ovation from the 42,614 strong MCG crowd.
Green joins Australia’s casualty ward after blow to the hand
It has been a dominant day for Australia on the field but at stumps on Day Two, the medical and support staff will be working overtime to ensure that Australia has a full bowling attack to chase victory in the second Test.
After Mitchell Starc was initially cleared to return to play but was shortly after ruled out of the third Test next week in Sydney with a broken finger, Cameron Green added to Australia’s concerns after he was struck on his index finger after a blow from Nortje. After an initial assessment from the physio on the field, he was taken for further treatment with further assessment and scans to follow.
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