Proteas fire routs Aussies

HARARE - A Test series between Australia and South Africa is an absolute treat from the gods, and the first Test between these two passionate nations didn’t disappoint.

South Africa arrived in Australia after two consecutive Test losses to India in India late last year, as well as a home series defeat to England, while Australia were still licking their wounds after a 3-0 series loss to Sri Lanka.

Both teams were desperate to get back on track, both teams had a few words to say before they graced the Waca pitch, and in the end it was South Africa who showed tremendous character, guts and determination despite losing their premier fast bowler Dale Steyn half way into the second day.

Steyn went down with a fracture of the bone to his shoulder, and is expected to be out of cricket for at least six months.

But the age-old saying “cometh the hour cometh the man” and 21-year-old Kagiso Rabada calmly stepped up to the plate and took over Steyn’s duties as if it were the most natural thing to do.

South Africa’s day was a forgettable one, say for the brilliant 84 made by wicket keeping sensation Quinton de Kock, who has now been referred to as the next Adam Gilchrist.

Ironically, Steyn’s injury saw Australia capitulate at the hands of Vernon Philander, Rabada and the impressive left arm spinner Keshav Maharaj, who bagged 3-56 on his Test debut.

The move to push JP Duminy to number four was a questionable one at the time, many felt that Faf du Plessis should take more responsibility as captain and should have batted himself at number four, with Temba Bavuma batting at five and Duminy, who has had his fair share of issues against the short ball at number six.

Yet again, South Africa came up trumps with their decision as the free flowing Duminy and the resourceful Dean Elga batted South Africa out of the woods and into the driving seat with a near perfect partnership of 250 for the third wicket.

The partnership was beautifully paced, as they first established themselves at the crease, then transferred the pressure onto the bewildered Aussies who could do nothing but watch as their hard work of the first day was taken away from them.

De Kock, Philander and Maharaj all contributed with lusty blows to ensure that Australia were totally out of the match as they set the hosts 538 to win.

Then, the sheer brilliance of South Africa’s young stars shone brightly as the Proteas remorselessly tightened the screws.

It all started with Bavuma’s run out to dismiss David Warner, and despite a few solid contributions, Australia went down for the third straight loss at the WACA.

The Proteas have made the WACA a fortress winning their last three encounters against Australia in 2008, 2012 and 2016.

Rabada’s awe inspiring spell of 5-98 in the second innings deservedly earned the 21-year-old fast bowler the man-of-the-match award.

The word freak is often used in the modern day of sport, and it normally means that a player is beyond good, better than the best and Rabada has clearly entered the freak realm.

What astonishes most is his ability to run in relentlessly and maintain his pace throughout at times prolonged spells.

Australia have a fine crop of very talented and promising pacemen, but are unable to keep them match fit and injury free, while Rabada has been able to maintain unbelievable stamina much like one of his mentors in Makhaya Ntini.

When you’re bowling sustained spells of out and out fast bowling at 21, the body is vulnerable to injuries, such as back, knees, shoulder and ankles, which is what the Australians are currently experiencing.

Yet, Rabada plugs away like one of the wild dogs you find in the desert, relentlessly running down his prey and devouring it when it can no longer run.

Australia are clearly shaken by their first Test loss, and have also been hampered by two injuries, and for once, it is hard to see the once mighty all conquering Australia finding a way back into this contest, with the next test starting today in Hobart.

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