Cameron Green

Melbourne, Dec 26 (IANS) Australia’s fast-bowling all-rounder Cameron Green, who recently became the second-most expensive player in the history of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the 2023 IPL player auction, took his maiden five-wicket haul to put Australia in control at the end of Day One in the Boxing Day Test against South Africa at the MCG.

Green ripped through South Africa’s lower order to pick a career-best 5/27 and bowl the tourists out for 189 in their first innings. The Proteas could have been out for an even lower total, if not for the 112-run sixth-wicket stand between wicketkeeper Kyle Verreynne (52) and left-arm fast bowler Marco Jansen (59).

It was a disappointing day for the tourists, whose build-up to the match at the MCG was majorly centred around their difficulties with the bat after they had done poorly in bowler-friendly conditions during the two-day first Test at The Gabba.

Even though conditions were far more conducive for batting, the Australians won the toss and bowled first with captain Dean Elgar (26) getting his side to 56 for one after the loss of Sarel Erwee for 18, with local lad Scott Boland taking him out.

But as lunch loomed, the complexion of the morning was dramatically altered when Elgar was run out by an excellent direct hit from Marnus Labuschagne at mid-off, before the bowler of the day Green (5-27) took the first of his five wickets when he sent Theunis de Bruyn on his way for 12.

Mitchell Starc (2-39) took out Temba Bavuma (1) and Khaya Zondo (5) on either side of the break, as South Africa lost four wickets for just 11 runs and were facing the real prospect of being blown away altogether.

However, Verreynne, with his second Test half-century and Jansen with his first fifty in the longer format battled hard to bring South Africa back to a picture of respectability. The duo were proactive against the off-spin of Nathan Lyon and capitalised on loose balls from the pacers.

They got South Africa to 144 for five at tea and then 179 for five later in the final session. But the set duo were then quickly removed by Green as the last five wickets, including Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi, fell for only 10 runs in just 12 balls, as the Proteas were all out in 68.4 overs, their seventh under-200 total in Tests.

Twelve overs were then sent down with the new ball with just one wicket taken when Rabada (1-24) had Usman Khawaja caught behind by Verreynne for one. But David Warner playing his 100th Test match took his side to the close unbeaten on 32, with Marnus Labuschagne five not out.

Brief scores: South Africa 189 all out in 68.4 overs (Marco Jansen 59, Kyle Verreynne 52, Cameron Green 5-27, Mitchell Starc 2-39) lead Australia 45/1 in 12 overs (David Warner 32 not out; Kagiso Rabada 1-24) by 144 runs