The opening day of the ongoing third and final Test between Australia and South Africa witnessed only 47 overs of play as rain, and bad lights forced the officials to call for early stumps. The hosts, who are aiming for a 3-0 series whitewash over the Proteas, were 147/2 at the end of the day’s play, with Usman Khawaja unbeaten on 54 and Steve Smith yet to face a delivery.
Khawaja had formed a scintillating partnership of 135 runs for the first wicket with Marnus Labuschagne, but right before the stumps was announced, South African pacer Anrich Nortje got rid of Labuschagne with an absolute peach of a delivery.
It all happened on the final ball of the 47th over when Nortje went for a fiery 146 kmph short of a length delivery, which appeared to be angling into the right-handed batter. Expectedly so, Labuschagne played for the angle, but the ball deviated at the last moment, squaring up the batter and clicking the shoulder edge of the bat before flying through to Proteas wicketkeeper Kyle Verreynne.
Here is the video:
The lion-hearted Anrich Nortje strikes again! 🦁
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) January 4, 2023
Earlier, Australian captain Pat Cummins won the toss for a fifth consecutive Test and elected to bat first at Sydney Cricket Ground. Both sides picked two strike spinners in their starting XI, with Ashton Agar and Simon Harmer making their debut appearance of the series.
The Proteas seamers were disciplined in the morning session, restricting Australia to a scoring rate of under two runs per over. However, the introduction of spin completely backfired, as Khawaja and Labuschagne started picking boundaries to accelerate the run flow. The duo added 50 runs for the first wicket till the lunch break and then took the stand to 135 before Nortje broke the partnership.