Dale Steyn sets the tone as SA pace attack demolishes Australia – ESPNcricinfo.com

Nov 3, 2018The Report by Daniel BrettigFacebookTwitterFacebook MessengerPinterestEmailprint

Australia 152 (Phehlukwayo 3-33) v South Africa

Australia’s home summer without their best two batsmen began in sickening style for the hosts, shot out for 152 by South Africa’s high-quality pace attack on a fast and fiery Perth Stadium pitch in front of a paltry crowd.

Where 53,781 had been present at the new venue for a January ODI against England, only a fraction of that assembly were in attendance as the side captained by Aaron Finch were sent in to bat after Faf du Plessis won a more than useful toss. They were to be witness to Australia’s lowest total in a home ODI against South Africa for 21 years, since cobbling 125 at the MCG in 1997.

The bounce and seam on offer was exploited brilliantly by Dale Steyn and company, as the Australians slid to 3 for 8 then 6 for 66 against bowling perfectly suited to the conditions. A lower-order recovery hinted at an easing of the pitch’s gremlins, but also offered some faint hope for the Australian pace quartet.

Even so, the technical shortcomings recently bemoaned by the coach Justin Langer were on show as batsmen went hard at the seaming ball outside off stump, resulting either in edges behind the wicket or miscues in front. Finch meanwhile succumbed to a lapse in judgment, given lbw by Aleem Dar then failing to review a ball that ball-tracking showed would have cleared the stumps.

Steyn, Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi all delivered their share of fiendishly prancing deliveries, but it was the lesser pace of Andile Phehlukwayo who capitalised most noticeably with a trio of victims, as the Australians tried to attack after being tied down by his faster team-mates.

Plenty of grass on the surface had led both sides to favour pace in their bowling lineups, with the hosts selecting all four of Mitchell Starc, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood. The spin bowlers Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar were duly omitted.

Shaun Marsh could not be considered due to requiring surgery for an abscess on his buttocks, with D’Arcy Short coming into the lineup and batting at No. 3. The loss of Marsh is a significant blow as he was Australia’s leading batsman in their previous series, a 5-0 loss to England in the UK in mid-year.

The match was Australia’s first on home turf since the Newlands ball tampering scandal, resulting in bans for David Warner, Steven Smith and Cameron Bancroft. It was also the first home international for the new broadcaster Fox Sports, the first time in history that any such matches have moved behind a paywall – albeit still available free on the Cricket Australia live app for the time being.

Walking out to bat alongside Finch, Travis Head was beaten by Steyn’s perfectly pitched first ball, and in the third over edged behind when trying to drive at the first ball Steyn flung further up to the bat. Two balls later and Short fell similarly, offering a chance very well taken by du Plessis, leaping off the ground to reel it in.

Finch weathered 16 deliveries before being pinned in front of the stumps by Ngidi, and was on his way after a brief nod of the head by the non-striker Chris Lynn. However, the considerable bounce in the pitch provided cause for doubt about a ball that struck Finch above the knee roll of the pad, and technology duly confirmed a reprieve would have occurred if the captain had reviewed.

Lynn and Alex Carey tried to right the ship for a time, as the run rate crept along at barely two an over and the first boundary was not collected until Lynn punched a Rabada full toss down the ground at the end of the 12th over. Lynn, though, was to fall to a thin edge behind off Phehlukwayo, who was also to capture the wickets of Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis when both were pouched at mid-on.

In Maxwell’s case, the dismissal arrived a ball after he had been struck a painful blow on the thumb, and did not take place without rancour form the batsman, who believed a low chance had not carried to Klaasen – replays suggested otherwise.

After Cummins was well run out by David Miller’s side arm flick, Carey’s long and unsupported occupation was to be ended by a top edged attempt to paddle Imran Tahir, who would go on to trap Mitchell Starc lbw. Coulter-Nile offered a selection of strong blows, but it said everything about this innings that the top score was registered by Australia’s No. 9 in the batting order.