2nd Test, Melbourne, December 26 - 29, 2022, South Africa tour of Australia
189 & 204

Australia won by an innings and 182 runs

Player Of The Match

Green takes maiden five-wicket haul as South Africa fold for 189

A 112-run stand between Verreynne and Jansen gave the innings some backbone but there was not much else

Firdose Moonda
Firdose Moonda
Cameron Green ripped through South Africa's lower order  •  AFP

Cameron Green ripped through South Africa's lower order  •  AFP

Australia 45 for 1 (Warner 32*, Labuschange 5*) trail South Africa 189 (Jansen 59, Verreynne 52, Green 5-27) by 144 runs
The opening day at MCG suggests this series is in for a repeat of what happened at the Gabba but don't be fooled: this pitch is nowhere near as spiteful, it's South Africa's batting which remains bad. They were bowled for under 200 for a seventh successive Test innings and David Warner, in his 100th Test, had already made some headway into the total.
Collapses bookended South Africa's innings as they slipped to 58 for 4 in before lunch and lost five wickets for 10 runs in the evening session. A 112-run sixth-wicket stand between Kyle Verreynne and Marco Jansen, who scored half-centuries each, gave the innings some backbone but there was not much else.
Pat Cummins will feel vindicated after making the surprising decision to bowl first and put pressure on a vulnerable line-up. Though Australia were disciplined with the ball, they were not outstanding and they put down several catches but still managed to dismiss South Africa for an under-par score. Cameron Green did the bulk of the damage and claimed the wicket of Theunis de Bruyn, which was the first of three for two runs, before lunch and then Verreynne, Jansen, Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi in 12 balls to complete his first Test five-for.
Dean Elgar and Sarel Erwee started off fairly well against tight Australian lines. Elgar was dropped on 7, when he offered Cummins a return catch, and on 19, when he gave Green a tough chance at point. He played and missed several times but dug in and survived and the stage seemed set for him to grind out a good knock.
But it wasn't long before familiar batting problems reared their head. Erwee drove loosely against Scott Boland and was caught at third slip to be dismissed in that fashion for the 10th time in 16 innings. New No. 3 de Bruyn, who replaced Rassie van der Dussen, seemed in good touch and hit Green for two straight drives down the ground but then misjudged Green's length and top-edged a pull.
That brought South Africa's two most experienced hands, Elgar and Temba Bavuma, together but they were separated 10 minutes before lunch. Elgar pushed Mitchell Starc to the right of mid-off, where Marnus Labuschagne was quick onto the ball. He turned and released in one move and fired in a direct hit to find Elgar short of his ground and run him out for the first time in Test career. The ball after that, Starc found Bavuma's edge with a ball that tailed away as he prodded at it and had him caught behind.
Both Verreynne and Khaya Zondo were scoreless at the lunch interval but resumed the innings with positive intent. Verreynne got off the mark with a confident square drive off a full, wide Starc ball. He did not score a run for the next eight balls he faced as Australia applied pressure and Zondo succumbed to another moment of Marnus magic. He stepped out to drive Starc past mid-off but found Labuschagne, who took an outstanding leaping catch to end Zondo's innings.
Undeterred by the severity of the situation, Verreynne and Jansen took the fight to Australia and their approach could well be a blueprint for South Africa to follow in future. Verreynne was particularly severe on the short ball while Jansen drove well and they were both proactive against Nathan Lyon's offspin.
Jansen should have been dismissed for 37 when he pulled Cummins to Usman Khawaja at square leg but the chance was spilled. He went on to his first Test fifty, and sixth first-class half-century, with a lofted drive over long-on. The shot that got him to his milestone just evaded Starc at long-on and caught the tip of his finger, in what initially seemed a serious injury. Starc left the field immediately and later returned with his finger in a dressing. He was not required to bowl again.
Verreynne's fifty followed, with his second milestone of the series after also top-scoring in the first innings in Brisbane and South Africa were set to push past 200 but then Green struck.
However, Verreynne was drawn forward and edged Green to Steven Smith at slip and in his next over, Jansen went the same way. Rabada played on, Keshav Maharaj hit Lyon to mid-off and Green took out Lungi Ngidi's offstump to end South Africa's inning with 19 overs left in the day.
Though their attack had more to work with than they did at the Gabba, South Africa's bowlers lacked energy and barely threatened. Five of Rabada's first six balls, all to Warner, went down leg. In Rabada's next over, Warner did as he promised he would and took Rabada on. He got off the mark when he pulled Rabada behind square for four. He repeated the shot in Rabada's next over. South Africa's spearhead had some reward when Khawaja nicked off. It was the fifth time in nine matches that Rabada has dismissed Khawaja.
Lungi Ngidi and Marco Jansen were more disciplined but Warner issued a final warning, when he threw his bat at a wide Anrich Nortje ball that flew over the slips for four more. He was undefeated on 32 overnight, with Labuschagne alongside him.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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