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Ken Borland

Warner bats with executive authority as he puts SA to the sword

Posted on August 03, 2023 by Ken

David Warner, celebrating his 100th Test, batted with executive authority as he put South Africa to the sword with an unbeaten double-century as Australia took complete control of the second Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Tuesday.

Warner, suffering from severe cramps, retired hurt immediately after he reached 200 with a steer wide of the slips for his 16th four to go with two sixes. He was spent physically in the sweltering Melbourne heat, but no doubt mentally as well after coming through a tumultuous period in which his Test future was in doubt.

There was no respite though for the South African bowlers, who toiled manfully without much luck in the morning session, but finally crumbled after tea as Australia added 155 runs in 28 overs in the final session to reach the close on 386 for three, already a lead of 197.

Steven Smith scored 85 but did not bat with his usual immaculate control, instead showing his powers of determination as he weathered some tough times, adding 239 for the third wicket with Warner.

The pair had accelerated after tea, lashing 83 runs in the 11 overs after the break, but Smith then steered the first ball after drinks straight to gully to give Anrich Nortje a well-deserved wicket.

But Travis Head showed he is well-equipped to also be one of the fast cars on the Australian race-track, cruising to a run-a-ball 48 not out by stumps.

About the only concern for the home side is that two of their bowlers may have broken fingers. All-rounder Cameron Green had to retire hurt on 6 after being a struck a fearful blow on the hand by Nortje, while Mitchell Starc dislocated a finger in the field on the first afternoon.

Nortje was a phenomenal mix of F1 car and tough bakkie on Tuesday, consistently sending down 150km/h thunderbolts and showing remarkable endurance to keep his speed up right until the end of a tough day, his figures of one for 50 in 16 overs not doing him justice.

He was the one bowler to really trouble Warner, finding his inside-edge several times. But South Africa’s only wicket in the crucial morning session came via a run out, Warner and Marnus Labuschagne (14) getting into a mishap over an overthrow. Nortje completed the run out of Labuschagne with good composure at the bowler’s end, Keshav Maharaj having provided the throw.

Left-armer Marco Jansen was also probing and he had Smith dropped on nine, gloving a hook down the leg-side, wicketkeeper Kyle Verreynne spilling a tough, diving chance.

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