The Proteas have won their third consecutive Test series in Australia, after thrashing Australia by an innings and 80 runs in Hobart on Tuesday.
Before the season started, languishing at No 7 in the Test rankings, the thought of the Proteas beating Australia Down Under seemed a near-impossible task. But this rejuvenated unit, led by Faf du Plessis, have not only done it inside two Tests, but they’ve embarrassed their opponents too.
It continues the momentum that the side gathered by securing the 5-0 ODI series whitewash back home, and while the Test series was always going to be a different prospect, the Proteas have been just as clinical in all facets of the game.
If the 177-run victory in Perth was a huge victory, then the one in Hobart was complete carnage, as Australia posted their lowest match run total since World War II.
It means Australia have now lost five Tests in a row, and it was the first time since 1988 that they’ve lost three consecutive home Test series against one side, when the great West Indies side enjoyed a spell of domination.
Now it’s the turn of the South Africans, following up from their successes in 2008 and 2012. The writing was on the wall from day one at the Bellerive Oval, as Australia were skittled for 85, their third-lowest total against the Proteas.
Rain tried to get in the tourists’ way as day two was washed out, but, carrying on from their 171-5 at stumps on the first day, Quinton de Kock and Temba Bavuma continued the charge on day three with a record sixth-wicket stand for SA against Australia, as their 144-run stand got their side to 326 all out. De Kock cruised to a magnificent century, while Bavuma scored a solid 74.
The batsmen merely backed up the stars of the show – the bowlers. Vernon Philander’s 5-21 in the first innings set the tone, and Kyle Abbott and Kagiso Rabada continued the onslaught in Australia’s second innings.
Abbott has proved time and time again that he’s up for the challenge whenever he gets the nod, and he certainly didn’t disappoint once more. He took two vital wickets in the evening session on day three, and hit his straps straight away on Tuesday morning with two more quick scalps.
The execution to South Africa’s bowling plans were spot on from all three of Abbott, Philander and Rabada. The line and lengths were relentless, but the occasional short ball had the Australians not knowing whether to go back or forward, and it resulted in the removal of the majority of their batsmen.
Perhaps the best part about Abbott and Philander’s partnership was that Rabada was hardly needed up front, which allowed him to steam in and make a mockery of what was left. When he squared up Aussie captain Steve Smith for 31, it was his fourth wicket in just over six overs, and that all but signalled the end of the hosts’ fight.
Abbott picked up the last two wickets to bowl out Australia for just 161, to secure his third five-wicket haul, his first in Australia, and the Man of the Match award, for match figures of 9-118. No bowler has taken that many wickets in a Test in Hobart before.
The Proteas now have a week to soak up the glory and prepare for what will be another piece of history in South Africa’s cricketing books – their first-ever day-night Test in Adelaide.
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