23/05/2024

Pat Cummins' final session magic spell has given Australia hope of a result in the Third Test against South Africa. (Image: cricket.com.au)

Australian captain Pat Cummins has given his side the best possible chance of forcing a result in the Third Test against South Africa at the SCG with a brutal final session burst on Day Four.

The rain finally cleared after lunch in Sydney allowing the players to re-take the field for the first time since quarter to five on Thursday afternoon, with Cummins deciding to declare and move the game forward to force a result, leaving Usman Khawaja stranded on 195*, short of a maiden Test double century.

Here are the moments that mattered on Day Four at the SCG:

Moving ceremonies continue on sodden SCG to honour Jane McGrath

The rain kept on falling at the SCG with the start of play once again delayed. But it didn’t stop the ceremonial parts of the Sydney Test from moving on. The Jane McGrath day festivities, while pushed back to day four after day three was completely lost to rain.

The large pink silk flag featuring Jane McGrath’s face and the Foundation message being unfolded and held out by dozens of volunteer nurses who work for the foundation.

Glenn McGrath, flanked by his adult kids Holly and James and his little daughter Madison was on the field for this.

As players returned to the field for the eventual resumption of play, the baggy Pinks were handed over to the McGrath family.

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The test match finally restarts after lunch as Australia moves the game on

The rain stopped. The tidy-up was completed and we were finally set for action again at the SCG after nearly two days.

With eyes firmly on the World Test Championship Final and needing to take 20 South African wickets to guarantee their place at The Oval in June, Pat Cummins declared Australia’s innings closed on 4-475, leaving Usman Khawaja stranded five runs short of a maiden Test double century.

Josh Hazelwood took the new ball, charging into an underfire South African captain Dean Elgar. Elgar, short of runs all series, looked as if he was going to fall cheaply in the same fashion off the first ball of the innings as he flashed at a ball going down the leg side but was saved by the movement back into his body.

The second ball flew off the outside edge past third slip for four to get off the mark before seeing out a probing opening over from the returning Australian quick.

Soft signal again sparks debate as Smith slip effort ruled short

Third umpire Richard Kettleborough found himself in the thick of the action once again at the SCG. On day one, he overturned a soft signal from the standing umpires to give Marnus Labuschagne a reprieve and he was asked to rule on yet another decision sent his way.

Josh Hazelwood found the edge of Elgar’s bat which flew to Steve Smith at second slip, who dived with one hand and looked to have completed a stunning slips catch. Although Smith wasn’t so sure he had it as Elgar stood his ground, which was his right given the precedent set earlier in the match with the Labuschagne decision.

Replays showed that Smith had gotten his fingers underneath the ball but made simultaneous contact with the ground and therefore, the call remained with the soft signal. Five-time ICC umpire of the year Simon Taufel provided an explanation on Channel Seven’s coverage.

Hazelwood got his man at the end of his very next over with Elgar evading a short ball but again a leg-side delivery which he nicked behind to Alex Carey, leaping to take a very good catch to send the Proteas captain on his way cheaply yet again.

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Nathan Lyon was thrown the ball in the eighth over of the innings with the knowledge that he had a big shift coming up. He started bowling a lot quicker than usual which made him easier to judge for the South African batters who looked to settle in for the long haul at the crease.

Sarel Erwee seized on a short and quick Lyon delivery, rocking back and cutting the off-spinner to the boundary for four.

The next ball though, the opening batter left one that turned late and just kissed the stumps which sent him on his way for 18.

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The next over, Heinrich Klaasen, the fourth new first-drop batter for South Africa in as many Test matches gloved one through to Alex Carey off the bowling of Pat Cummins.

Ashton Agar was thrown the ball at the Paddington end to bowl in Australia for the first time in his Test career as South Africa made it to 3/71 at tea.

Bavuma’s big error opens the door for a result

Both spinners resumed for Australia after the tea interval as Khaya Zondo and Temba Bavuma looked increasingly comfortable at the crease. Having not a lot of foot traffic over the last day and a half, the pitch wasn’t playing any tricks yet and a change of pace was required which Cummins seized upon bringing back Josh Hazelwood.

At the start of the second over of his spell, Hazelwood bowled a good length delivery on a fifth stump line. Bavuma, who has looked the most likely South African batter all series to trouble the Australians, decided to defend and it caught a thin edge through to Carey.

Bavuma awlked off distraught knowing he had made a bad error.

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Verreynne and Zondo combined and start the counter-attack – Zondo continuing Bavuma’s lead in attacking Lyon, pulling him for six.

Captain Pat’s stunning spell leaves hosts best placed to force a result on day five

Pat Cummins knew Australia needed to get as close to completing South Africa’s first innings on day four as quickly as possible. After leaving themselves 157 overs to bowl them out twice, both Khaya Zondo and Kyle Verreynne were doing their best to keep the hosts at bay.

Looking to get another partnership going, and continue the attack of Nathan Lyon, Zondo registered his highest score of the series, including depositing the champion off-spinner into the Bill O’Reilly Stand a couple of times with some well-timed and executed pull shots.

With light fading after drinks and with the SCG floodlights once again coming into effect, Cummins took the ball for his third spell, this time from the Paddington end, and cranked up the heat for the 19,134 fans that came through the SCG on day four.

Zondo was wrapped on the foot and was out LBW thanks to a nice setup by captain Cummins.  Zondo reviewed and the decision was upheld.

With his tail up, sniffing more blood in the water, Captain Pat put on a shot ball barrage and yet another fast bowling clinic at his home ground, with a hostile spell of bowling to both Verreynne and new batter Marco Jansen. Jansen, the recipient of multiple blows on the body and the arm.

Cummins’s second wicket of the spell, after getting driven down the ground by Jansen, which just passed his outstretched arm for a return catch, found the edge of Kyle Verreynne which was caught by Steven Smith at second slip.

With a full day’s play expected on Day five, Australia requires four wickets to wrap up South Africa’s first innings while the tourists need a further 126 runs to ensure the hosts will have to bat again.

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