19/04/2024

Travis Head was instrumental on Day 1 at the Gabba on a pitch that provided plenty for the bowlers. (Image: Cricket.com.au)

The Gabba provided one of the greenest pitches we had seen in recent history, making winning the toss somewhat important.

Day one proved to be entertaining, as 15 wickets fell throughout the day. Runs were made by certain individuals as one side particularly has the edge.

Here are the moments that mattered on day one in Brisbane:

A successful morning mission

After winning the all-important coin toss, captain Pat Cummins elected to bowl on the green surface. Due to his decision, Australia needed to strike early, to make the most of the new ball.

And make the most of it they did, as it only took a little over four overs for Mitchell Starc to strike. Starc attacked the body of Dean Elgar, and in doing so, enticed a shot down the leg side.

Elgar nicked on around the leg side and was caught by Alex Carey. The Proteas’ most-important batter was out of the way and Starc was one step closer to 300 Test wickets.

The Aussies had two within 10 overs when a Cummins’ peach left Rassie van der Dussen with very little option.

Scott Boland began his spell doing ‘Scott Boland’ things, claiming a double-wicket maiden in his second over of the match.

Boland’s line and length set up an outside edge from Sarel Erwee, who nicked to Cam Green in the gully, completing the catch.

Just two deliveries later, Boland struck again, this time new arrival – Khaya Zondo was adjudged out by LBW. Zondo reviewed and was so close to keeping his wicket, but umpire’s decision had him on his way.

At the time of the fourth wicket, South Africa sat nervously on 4/27. But, Temba Bavuma and Kyle Verreynne steadied the ship making hard-fought runs, forcing a fightback late in the morning session.

The Proteas walked to the lunch with some credit for their work at 4/84. They peeled 45 runs off the Aussie bowlers in the last 11 overs of the session.

All of the heavy lifting

The fifth-wicket partnership of Temba Bavuma and Kyle Verreynne did most of the heavy lifting for the visitors. The pair provided about two-thirds of the South African innings, playing a vital role in how deep the innings went.

If it wasn’t for the pair of Bavuma and Verreynne steadying the ship before lunch, the Proteas were staring down the barrel of a dire total.

12 boundaries between the two gave the South Africans a sense of hope that the wicket might turn around. Perhaps just not fast enough.

The two piled on 98 runs, essentially saving the Proteas from embarrassment. But unfortunately for the visitors, their downfall resulted in the downfall of the whole side.

Starc got Australia back on track, by bowling Bavuma for 38 runs off 70 deliveries.

From here, Verreynne endured, as the Aussies picked away.

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Bowled out before tea

Including the wicket of Bavuma, Australia took six wickets in the middle session, forcing an early tea break.

In just his fourth over of the match, Nathan Lyon had his first scalp – Marco Jansen for two runs off a patient 19 balls.

Jansen went for the marvellous slog, trying to smash Lyon out of the park, but he skied it into the heads of Green.

Lyon had his second, and the Aussies’ eighth of the innings, with a simple outside edge falling into the hands of Steve Smith. The pair of Lyon and Smith set a new record for the most dismissals by a bowler-fielder pair (excluding wicket-keepers) – 52 wickets.

Lyon finished the innings the most economical of the bowlers. The ‘GOAT’ took 3/14 from eight overs, including two maidens.

Cummins completed the innings, giving Green some more catching practice in the gully.

A bleak total of 152 was made after 50 overs of batting. Tea was taken early due to the 10th wicket of the day.

Luck of the first over

Australia’s first three wickets of its batting innings came from three separate bowlers. Australia’s first wicket was uncovered with the first ball of the innings, which saw Kagiso Rabada undo David Warner.

It was an awkward delivery for Warner, who eventually threw his bat at it. The ball was flicked into the air and caught at short-leg by Zondo, sending the left-hander back to the pavilion for a golden duck.

With his first ball in Australia, Marco Jansen sent Australia into disarray. The ball did all-sorts on the wicket, and Marnus Labuschagne nicked off, into the slips for an easy catch taken by captain Dean Elgar.

Anrich Nortje was smoked for four from his first ball by Usman Khawaja. But, the South African got his revenge on the next delivery, sending a bullet of a delivery down.

The pace appeared to catch Khawaja off-guard, as his defence shot sent the ball flying towards the slips, where it was caught by a substitute fielder Simon Harmer.

Travis Head doing Travis Head things

Like the Proteas, the Aussies sat at 3/27 too following the wicket of Khawaja. Just like the South Africans, the Australians steadied the ship thanks to Steve Smith and Travis Head.

Head joined Smith at the crease, and in typical Head style, he surpassed Smith and took on his own innings. Head reached 50 after only 48 balls, attacking the bowler and putting them on the back foot, smoking a six to reach the milestone. His more than run-a-ball effort gave the Aussies some much-needed breathing room.

The pair put on 117 runs in just over 20 overs before Smith was undone by Nortje. Smith was bowled after he chopped onto the off-stump.

The fourth wicket was a key breakthrough, but the Aussies were certainly in the controlling seat.

Head continued on his merry way to an unbeaten 78 from 77 deliveries at the end of day one. He was briefly joined by night-watchman Scott Boland, who lasted four balls. Once Boland fell, stumps was called.

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