Australian openers David Warner and Cameron Bancroft stitched a highly impressive 98-run stand in the first hour of first day’s play in the ongoing second Test against South Africa at St George's Park, Port Elizabeth on Friday (March 9).
It was a difficult pitch to bat on and the Proteas pacers were making the ball talk with their lively pace and high-class accuracy. After starting cautiously, a determined Warner boldly unleashed as 44 runs were scored in just four overs. Bancroft departed at the stroke of lunch for a gritty 38 whereas Warner got out for a strokeful 63 in the second session.
Addressing the media after the first day’s play, Australia off-spinner Nathan Lyon lauded the opening duo for surviving the most difficult passage of play.
"(It was a) tough day but the positive I thought was we got through the difficult part of the batting innings - Cameron and Davey did a fantastic job," Lyon told reporters.
In the second session, Aussie batsmen had no answer to Kagiso Rabada’s menacing reverse swing as they collapsed from 161/3 to 182/8. Rabada scalped 5 for 96, his 8th five-wicket haul in Test cricket as Australia got bundled out for 243.
When asked about Rabada’s demolishing work with the ball, Lyon said: "We talked about the key moments before the series and we didn't identify the big key moment when Rabada was reversing the ball."
If not for Tim Paine’s precious 36 Australia could have been bowled out under 200. The wicketkeeper-batsman shared 30-run partnership for the ninth wicket Lyon before putting 31-run stand for the last wicket with Josh Hazlewood.
"Tim has brought a lot of calmness to batting with the tail. I like batting with him, he seems to not make you nervous," Lyon said.
Lyon is confident that the Australian pace attack could also wreak havoc on this sluggish wicket on Day 2.
"I'm not sure if the conditions will get easier. It's the type of wicket that for the remainder is going to be challenging. You never feel like you're in... Davey (Warner) said that after he was dismissed. We still have the best bowling attack in the world and we are still feeling confident enough if we can bowl well in partnerships," he concluded.