Aggressive Head puts Australia in charge against South Africa

Aggressive Head puts Australia in charge against South Africa

An aggressive Travis Head put Australia in charge after the first day of the opening Test against South Africa at the Gabba in Brisbane on Saturday.

Australia's Travis Head

After bowling out the visitors for 152 on the stroke of tea, Head came to the crease with the Australian score a precarious 27-3.

But on a wicket that all batters found difficult to score on, Head looked a different class, smashing an unbeaten 78 from just 77 deliveries.

At the close Australia were 145-5 after nightwatchman Scott Boland was dismissed last ball of the day, trailing by just seven runs.

Australian captain Pat Cummins earlier won the toss and chose to bowl on a green wicket under cloudy skies.

He would have felt vindicated by that decision after a stunning start when South Africa were reduced to 27-4 after 11 overs, a position from which they never recovered.

The only batters to defy the Australian attack were wicketkeeper Kyle Verreynne, top scorer with 64, and number four Temba Bavuma, who rescued the visitors from complete annihilation.

But once Bavuma fell for 38 midway through the second session, South Africa lost steady wickets on a surface that got faster as the day wore on.

The morning conditions had looked ideal for Australia's potent pace attack, but Mitchell Starc and Cummins were wayward early, causing no real problems for the batters.

Starc began the rout with the first ball of the third over when South African captain Dean Elgar tickled a ball down the leg side to keeper Alex Carey.

Cummins began to find his line and length and was next to strike, with Rassie van der Dussen getting a faint edge to a ball that moved off the seam to leave South Africa 27-2.

That soon became 27-3 when Sarel Erwee got a thick edge off Boland for Cameron Green to take a brilliant catch in the gully, low and to his left.

Two balls later it was 27-4 when Boland trapped Khaya Zondo lbw for a duck.

But Verreynne decided to play his strokes, and with Bavuma grafting at the other end, they began a recovery.

Australia's reply started disastrously when David Warner fell first ball of the innings after deflecting a brutal Kagiso Rabada short ball to short leg, where Zondo took a spectacular catch.

The in-form Marnus Labuschagne was next to fall, edging Marco Jansen's first ball to Elgar at second slip with the score on 18.

Anrich Nortje replaced opening bowler Lungi Ngidi and struck with his second ball when Usman Khawaja was caught at third slip by substitute fielder Simon Harmer.

After reducing South Africa to 27-4 in 11 overs, Australia found themselves 27-3 after nine overs.

But whereas South Africa's batting line-up looked vulnerable heading into the match, the Australians have been in great touch against the West Indies and Head and Steve Smith rarely looked in trouble.

But just when it looked as though they would see Australia to the close, Nortje got a ball through Smith's defences to rattle the stumps.



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