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Day 1, Report: South African fast bowler Kagiso Rabada ripped the heart out of Australia's batting when he took four wickets in seven balls on the first day of the second Test on Friday.
Rabada added a fifth wicket in the same spell as Australia were bowled out for 243 after winning the toss and batting on a green-tinged pitch on an overcast day at St George's Park.
South Africa were 39 for one at the close.
But on a day when both teams wanted the spotlight to be on cricket, Rabada – who finished with five for 96 – also produced the only flashpoint in Port Elizabeth.
The aftermath of his first wicket, that of Australian captain Steve Smith, could come under scrutiny at the end of an emotion-charged week when an altercation between Australia’s David Warner and South Africa’s Quinton de Kock stole much of the attention from Australia’s 118-run win in the first Test in Durban.
Rabada had words with Smith after dismissing him leg before wicket and the pair brushed shoulders as Smith headed towards the dressing room.
Although the incident did not appear to be particularly serious, Rabada’s fellow fast bowler Vernon Philander effectively confirmed there was some concern among the South Africans.
"You are allowed to celebrate sometimes," said Philander. "There is a fine line about whether you celebrate too hard. It’s up to the umpires and the ICC match officials to make that call."
Nathan Lyon said he hadn’t spoken to Smith. "Personally I’ve got a lot of faith and respect in the umpires and match referees, so no doubt they can deal with all that stuff," he said. "They did last week and I have no doubt they’ll make the decision they think is worthy."
Rabada was banned for one Test during a series in England last year after accumulating a total of four demerit points when he was penalised with one point after a send-off of Ben Stokes. He would incur another ban if he picked up another demerit point.
Amazing to watch
A South African team spokesperson said later they were awaiting feedback from match referee Jeff Crowe.
Philander said Rabada’s spell was "amazing to watch". He trapped Smith with a ball speared in to the batsman’s pads, then in his next over gained a second leg before wicket, dismissing Shaun Marsh, before having Mitchell Marsh caught behind off an inside edge.
Tea was taken after Mitchell Marsh was out. With his remaining ball in the over, Rabada had Pat Cummins caught behind to be on a hat-trick. He didn’t manage that but 11 balls later he bowled Mitchell Starc.
It was a day of contrasts. Australian opening batsmen Cameron Bancroft and Warner survived a testing first hour, scoring only 23 runs in 14 overs, then seemed to have taken control as they added 75 runs in the next hour, only for Bancroft to be out for 38 off the last ball before lunch.
Two more wickets fell quickly after the interval, including that of Warner for 63 who let his bat do the talking after being fined 75 percent of his match fee for the incident during the first Test. He scored his runs off 100 balls with nine fours.
Smith and Shaun Marsh steadied the innings with a patient fourth wicket stand of 44 before Rabada started his devastation.
Australia were 182 for eight when Starc was out but wicketkeeper Tim Paine batted well with the last two batsmen, Lyon and Josh Hazlewood as the last two wickets added 61 runs. Paine was last man out for 36.
Lyon admitted that Australia’s collapse was disappointing but said he was confident they could fight back. "Davey (Warner) said that it was a wicket on which you never feel in. Tim has given us a sniff and the opportunity to bowl well. We have the best bowling attack in the world."
With inputs from AFP