A left side strain may hinder Morne Morkel’s ability to make a meaningful impact in his final match for South Africa, with the big man heading straight to the dressing-room after bowling just two balls in his thirteenth over on Sunday.
Morkel who announced his international retirement at the start of the series, handed the ball to skipper Faf du Plessis, with Aiden Markram completing the over. It is a similar injury to the one he sustained against Bangladesh last October and which side-lined him for six weeks. The South African team’s management said Morkel was receiving treatment and he returned to the field for the final over before lunch.
Nevertheless side-strains are notoriously hard to overcome, and for Morkel, playing in his 86th Test, it would be a bitterly disappointing way to end his final match for his country.
In terms of the match itself, it probably means Du Plessis won’t enforce the follow-on, as he needs to protect his two remaining front line seam bowlers; Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada.
It was a morning in which Australia showed plenty of determination with skipper Tim Paine ignoring a hairline fracture of his right thumb, to battle through to the lunch interval, with Australia on 201/7, still trailing South Africa by 287 runs, while they remain 88 runs short of the follow on target.
Paine will resume on 47, with Nathan Lyon alongside him on 4.
Paine and Pat Cummins shared a partnership of 99 for the seventh wicket, taking advantage of some lax South Africa bowling, in cool conditions. The home side’s bowlers lacked consistency, while spinner Keshav Maharaj was unable to halt the Australian aggression against him.
He’s conceded 83 runs in just 18 overs and was unable to build any pressure at his end.
Cummins meanwhile continued his love affair with the “Bullring” notching up a maiden Test half-century. He made his debut here as an 18 year old in 2011, claiming a second innings ‘six-fer’ in that match, and hitting the winning runs as Australia claimed a two wicket win to tie a two-match series.
In this match he picked up just his second Test ‘five-fer’ and to that he added a fine innings of 50, that included six fours and a six. He was eventually out lbw, after South Africa chose to review when he went on a sweep. Initially it was to check a catch, but when replays showed Cummins didn’t edge or glove the ball, ‘ball tracking’ showed that the ball would have gone on to hit the stumps.