Australia have not enjoyed the current South Africa series. Their batting has suffered calamitous collapses in Perth and Hobart. In the second Test, their batting plummeted to a new low of 85 all out. The net result: A third consecutive series defeat at home to South Africa. (SCORECARD)
Heading into the Pink Ball Test, on a lively Adelaide wicket, Australia were under pressure after Faf du Plessis declared a 259/9. On the second day, they lost Matt Renshaw (10) and David Warner (11) cheaply. At 42/2, the situation was dire with Usman Khawaja, who was promoted to open, holding fort with skipper Steven Smith.
What followed was a revival for Australia’s fortunes as both Khawaja and Smith played with discipline and application to stitch a 137-run stand for the third wicket. Both players, hailing from New South Wales, countered the generous movement that was generated by Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada and Kye Abbott to take Australia to safety. Although Smith was run-out for a well-made 59, Khawaja stayed firm and he notched up his fifth Test century.
It was his maiden ton against South Africa and it was the first by an Australian batsmen in the series. Following Smith’s departure, Khawaja and debutant Peter Handscomb combined to help the hosts take the lead. The Victorian right-hander chipped in with a fine 54 as the 99-run partnership handed the initiative to the hosts.
Although South Africa picked up a couple of wickets towards the close, thanks to Khawaja’s unbeaten 138*, Australia finished day two of the Adelaide Test on 307/6, leading by 48 runs.
Along the way, Khawaja joined a select group of players who made a century in the Pink Ball Test. The left-hander became the first Australian and fourth overall to score a ton in the Day-Night Test.
All centuries in the Pink Ball Test have been scored in 2016. Azhar Ali holds a unique distinction when it comes to the Day-Night Test. During the Test against West Indies in 2016 in Dubai, he became the first batsman to score a century, double century and triple century during the course of the innings. He became the fourth Pakistan batsmen to score a triple ton in Tests.
The Australia vs South Africa Test is the third Pink Ball match in history. The first match was also played at the Adelaide Oval in 2015 and it featured Australia and New Zealand. The highest score in the match was 66 by Australia wicketkeeper Peter Nevill while New Zealand’s Tom Latham became the first player to hit a half-century.
There are more Day-Night Tests planned in the near future. Australia host Pakistan later in December for a Pink Ball Test in Brisbane while England take on West Indies in 2017 in Edgbaston. New Zealand are also mulling a Day-Night Test against Bangladesh or South Africa in their 2016/17 summer schedule.