AUS vs SA: Khawaja, Labuschagne put hosts in driving seat
Australia managed 147/2 (47) on Day 1 of the 3rd Test against South Africa at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG). Usman Khawaja and Marnus Labuschagne starred with half-centuries on what was a rain-curtailed start to the New Year's Test. Anrich Nortje picked both wickets for SA. Notably, Australia will seal their ICC World Test Championship final berth with a win in the 'Pink Test'.
The summary of Day 1
Australia lost opener David Warner early after electing to bat. However, Khawaja and Labuschagne shared a century stand to drive Australia forward. Norjte managed to remove Labuschagne before rain played spoilsport. The likes of Kagiso Rabada, Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj, and Simon Harmer remained wicketless. Khawaja and Steven Smith will return to the middle on Day 2.
14th Test fifty for Labuschagne
Australia's batting sensation Labuschagne smashed his 14th half-century in Test cricket. The top-ranked Test batter has certainly started the year 2023 from where he left in 2022. He ended up scoring 79 off 151 deliveries, a knock studded with 13 boundaries. Labuschagne arrived at number three and the momentum got shifted in Australia's favor. He recorded a century stand (135) alongside Usman Khawaja.
Usman Khawaja notches 20th fifty, completes 4,000 Test runs
Like Labuschagne, Khawaja started the year 2023 in style, smashing a well-paced half-century on the opening day. Khawaja enjoyed a dream run in Tests last year and seems determined to replicate his heroics. The left-handed batter struck his 20th Test fifty, having returned unbeaten on 54(121). Khawaja completed 4,000 runs in the format, becoming the 27th Aussie to reach this landmark.
WTC: A crucial contest for Australia
Australia, who enjoy an unassailable 2-0 lead, are standing in a crucial fixture. A win here would seal their berth in the ICC World Test Championship final. In case, they lose the ongoing game, Australia would need at least one win and two draws in the subsequent away Test series versus India in February-March to go through without depending upon other results.
Nortje stood out for SA
As stated, Nortje was the pick of South Africa's bowlers on Day 1. He conceded just 26 runs in 11 overs (three maidens) besides picking two wickets. Jansen was lethal as well but failed to produce any breakthrough.