An outstanding opening spell from Vernon Philander has seen Australia crumble to 43-6 on day one of the second Test in Hobart.
Philander’s efforts have come at a cost as a collision with Steve Smith, after appealing for an lbw decision, forced him off the field with a knock to the shoulder, but it’s not expected to be serious enough to prevent him from bowling again.
And the Proteas will certainly be hoping that isn’t the case, not only because he’s been bowling exceptionally, but also because they opted for three seamers, with Kyle Abbott coming in for the injured Dale Steyn, with Morne Morkel watching on from the bench once more.
It was an extraordinary opening session for the tourists, who have fully vindicated their decision to bowl first after they won the toss. On a lush, green surface, the ball swung and nipped off the surface for both Philander and Abbott, making it a nightmare for the Aussie top order.
It took a wild shot to see Philander get his first wicket four balls in, as David Warner (1) slashed at a wide one, which edged behind to Quinton de Kock. Abbott then got involved in his first over, too, as the ball crashed into Joe Burns’ pads, to also trudge back for one.
Battling along at one an over and disrupted by a brief rain delay, the hosts then lost two wickets in consecutive balls in Philander’s fifth over, and they were two excellent deliveries as the innings became increasingly reminiscent of Philander’s debut back in 2011, which saw Australia collapse to 47 all out.
First he found the edge of Usman Khawaja’s bat to go through to Hashim Amla at first slip, and then he found a knick off Adam Voges’ bat for the 37-year-old to walk back for a golden duck.
Just when you thought that was enough action for one session, Philander then thought he had another as he appealed for an lbw decision against Smith, but amongst the appealing Smith crashed into Philander as he ran for a single, flooring him. Faf du Plessis reviewed it and it revealed it was missing, but the collision forced Philander off for the rest of the session.
Maybe it was a blessing in disguise, for it was his replacement fielder, Dane Vilas, who brought about the next wicket. He misfielded a shot off debutant Callum Ferguson at backward point which prompted Ferguson to attempt two runs, but an excellent recovery from Vilas saw him hit the stumps directly, leaving Ferguson short.
All of this happened without Kagiso Rabada even bowling a ball, but it didn’t take him long to get involved. A successful lbw review saw the end of Peter Nevill for three.
Now it’s all up to Smith, on 20, to try and make an already damaged scorecard more respectable.
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