WICKET! Smith c&b Maharaj 104 (Australia 356-3)
That must rank among the most unexpected dismissals in Test history. Shortly after completing his ton, deep into a 200+ partnership, facing a bowler without a wicket all series, Smith almost yorks himself and chips an innocuous delivery straight back to Maharaj.
100 to Steve Smith!
109th over: Australia 356-2 (Khawaja 152, Smith 104) Steve Smith now has 30 Test centuries (one more than Don Bradman). He also has 8646 Test runs (three more than Michael Clarke). His average stands at 61.33 after 92 matches. He is a phenomenal cricketer who has earned his place among the all-time greats.
150 to Usman Khawaja!
108th over: Australia 351-2 (Khawaja 152, Smith 99) Maharaj’s gentle throwdowns allow Smith to creep to 99, the partnership to pass 200, and Khawaja to raise his bat for the third time this innings. Super knock from Australia’s opener, extending his brilliant 2022 form, and continuing his dominance at the SCG.
107th over: Australia 342-2 (Khawaja 147, Smith 95) Nortje bends his back, Australia nudge three runs.
106th over: Australia 339-2 (Khawaja 145, Smith 94) Maharaj milked for three.
105th over: Australia 336-2 (Khawaja 144, Smith 92) Nortje replaces Harmer, Khawaja cuts for a couple.
104th over: Australia 334-2 (Khawaja 142, Smith 92) Smith dabs back a Maharaj maiden.
103rd over: Australia 334-2 (Khawaja 142, Smith 92) Jonty Rhodes describes what he sees as Australia enjoying an elongated net session and South Africa going through the motions. Hard to see that changing any time soon. Hopefully Australia go the tonk after tea with a view to declaring around an hour from the close. The forecast for tomorrow is wet, so they might not have a heap of time to bowl the Proteas out twice.
102nd over: Australia 332-2 (Khawaja 141, Smith 91) More Maharaj meh.
Thanks Geoff. Looking forward to the dead parrot shift while Australia pile on runs.
This series has passed on. This contest is no more. It has ceased to be. It has expired and gone to meet its maker. This match is a stiff. Bereft of life. It rests in peace. It’s kicked the bucket. It’s shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible. This is an ex-Test… etc etc
101st over: Australia 329-2 (Khawaja 139, Smith 90) Still some bounce for Harmer, and some turn. Just can’t get Smith to do anything that Smith doesn’t want to do anymore.
One run from it, that’s drinks, and JP Howcroft is in next.
100th over: Australia 328-2 (Khawaja 138, Smith 90) And 100 overs up. Keshav Maharaj back with his left-arm tweak to celebrate the milestone. A couple of singles, the partnership pushes towards 200.
99th over: Australia 326-2 (Khawaja 137, Smith 89) Harmer keeps the cap on, just a single for Smith down the ground.
98th over: Australia 325-2 (Khawaja 137, Smith 88) A much safer cut shot from Khawaja this time, placing it down into the turf for four. Followed up immediately with an outside edge for four more. Rabada hates this tour so much. He loathes it. He detests it. Fair enough. How about another boundary, off another edge? Because that’s what happens: down into the ground, four.
97th over: Australia 311-2 (Khawaja 124, Smith 87) Harmer continues this long spell with the new ball. I can see the logic of giving a spinner a couple of overs to see if something happens, but can’t work out why Harmer wasn’t bowling much earlier and Nortje now. Harmer bowling tightly at least.
96th over: Australia 309-2 (Khawaja 123, Smith 86) Oh no! Dropped! Or not even, missed entirely! Rabada bowls width, Khawaja laces a cut shot in the air, and Nortje at point doesn’t see it. Can’t pick it up amongst the pink mottled crowd background, perhaps. It passes by his left shin as he tries to get a hand down but he only has a vague sense of where it might be. You can’t fault Nortje’s effort in this series but he’s the one to let a chance go. Perhaps he was busy wondering why he hasn’t had the new ball.
95th over: Australia 304-2 (Khawaja 119, Smith 85) The lull continues, Harmer giving away just one from the over. No troubles for Khawaja in defence though. Tries a couple of cut shots, doesn’t beat the field.
94th over: Australia 303-2 (Khawaja 119, Smith 84) Rabada not conceding many, but you get the feeling they’re just waiting him out. Bowls a decent bumper to Khawaja, who ducks it.
93rd over: Australia 302-2 (Khawaja 119, Smith 83) That career average is back over 61 and climbing for Smith. The 300 up. Harmer 0 for 55 off 17.
92nd over: Australia 298-2 (Khawaja 117, Smith 82) Rabada back for another trot. Trouble with the front line again, another no ball.
91st over: Australia 297-2 (Khawaja 117, Smith 81) Ben Jones of CricViz mentions in passing that this entire innings has the lowest false shot percentage on record. That’s only since 2006, but still. The highest proportion of shots middled. Quite the stat. Harmer at least manages an over to Khawaja without a run.
90th over: Australia 297-2 (Khawaja 117, Smith 81) Jansen trying a line over the wicket to the right-hander, seeing if he can get the ball swinging in to Smith, or angling across to slip. He makes Smith play at the first four, defending, but overpitches the fifth and gets driven for four. Smith can’t be stopped.
89th over: Australia 293-2 (Khawaja 117, Smith 77) Harmer still getting some turn with the newer ball. Keeps Khawaja at home in that over aside from a square push for two.
88th over: Australia 291-2 (Khawaja 115, Smith 77) Just occasionally, there’s a little bit of movement off the surface. Jansen gets some to go past Khawaja’s bat. But those deliveries aren’t producing wickets.
87th over: Australia 290-2 (Khawaja 114, Smith 77) Every Australian in the top seven bar Green has made a century this summer, and as a team they have been bowled out once, in Brisbane. Three more runs for Khawaja cutting Harmer, singles as well. The new ball hasn’t helped South Africa yet.
No wonder it feels like we’ve spent the summer watching Australians bat. This stat is as of the lunch break:
86th over: Australia 284-2 (Khawaja 110, Smith 75) Jansen from the Randwick end, a slip and a gully the only cordon members for the new ball. Two in the deep on the hook. Point, cover, mid off, mid on, midwicket. They’re finding singles in the gaps on the leg side easily enough.
85th over: Australia 281-2 (Khawaja 109, Smith 73) Sandwiches down, and Smith is in a hurry! Harmer darts through a fast off-break but Smith is charging anyway, to the pitch, and sends it soaring over extra cover! Whoosh. Advances again, hits the midwicket gap for two, then drives a single. This has been an uncharacteristically aggressive innings for Smith. Harmer keeps his cool and finds his length against Khawaja.
84th over: Australia 272-2 (Khawaja 109, Smith 64) Jansen to take up the cudgels after lunch. Goes up for an appeal after beating the edge, then gets smashed through the covers. The life of a bowler. Smith proceeds.
Believe it or not, we’ve had some sunshine over the lunch break. It’s quite warm wandering around outside. Humid and sweaty.
Lunch – Australia 266 for 2
Nortje will get to rest up and then have another burst with a new ball after lunch. But that was Australia’s session by a mile. A long session, two and a half hours, and they haven’t lost a wicket. The partnership is 119. Khawaja is beaming with another Sydney hundred, Smith got past a twitchy start to post just about his Test average, and they have a long while left ahead of them. South Africa need some magic after the break.
83rd over: Australia 266-2 (Khawaja 108, Smith 59) Two false shots with the cut in the previous over, but third time’s the charm for Smith. Smokes Nortje to the backward point fence. So Nortje bowls straighter and hits Smith! In the stomach or the lower ribs, as he misses a pull. “Oh, there it is again!” yells Smith to himself. That hurt. An overstep from Nortje as well, by a fraction. No ball. Goes back to his off-stump line and draws a back-foot defence, then a leave.
82nd over: Australia 261-2 (Khawaja 108, Smith 55) Marco Jansen has the new ball! This could be fun. The swing and bounce that he can get. And it’s a good first over, that bounce making it very tough for Khawaja. No runs from it, and a couple that hop nastily at the gloves.
81st over: Australia 261-2 (Khawaja 108, Smith 55) The fastest man on the field has the new ball, and he does get bounce. Beats Smith on the cut shot, bounce and some lateral movement, which we’ve seen very little of. Movement again when Nortje finds the off-stump channel. No run from the over.
80th over: Australia 261-2 (Khawaja 108, Smith 55) And the 80th ticks by, two singles from Maharaj. A deep breath, the new ball and Nortje are next.
79th over: Australia 259-2 (Khawaja 107, Smith 54) Harmer working through his 12th over, a couple of runs from it, both teams in a holding pattern.
78th over: Australia 257-2 (Khawaja 106, Smith 53) Maharaj comes back for Rabada, and the runs keep coming. Two and one for Smith, a couple on a hard sweep for Khawaja, then four with a cut shot. Nine from the over, Maharaj is being rinsed. Lunch is coming up in 15 minutes. Two overs until the new ball. The partnership is 110!
Half century! Steve Smith 50 from 95 balls
77th over: Australia 248-2 (Khawaja 100, Smith 50) Smith back to his work against Harmer, who is now coming around the wicket to the right-hander, trying to straighten the ball down the line. Another milestone, and nice round numbers for Australia, as Smith gets two to midwicket, then a run behind square.
Century! Usman Khawaja 100 from 207 balls
76th over: Australia 245-2 (Khawaja 100, Smith 47) Shot from Khawaja! Leans back and steers Rabada through gully, off the full face while using the angle, to get within touching distance. Then pulls the next ball and shouts “Yes!” for the second straight away. Turns and rushes back, a tight second run to deep backward but he has it. Three tons in his last three innings on this ground, after two in the Ashes Test last year. He has a little dance and then pumps both fists at the crowd. Well played.
75th over: Australia 239-2 (Khawaja 94, Smith 47) Harmer has Smith tentative for a couple of deliveries, hovering on the front foot, and then Smith has had enough. Wants to put pressure back on. Gets down low to sweep a good ball off his stumps behind backward square for four, then gets a poor ball in response, too short and easy to pull away. Again a couple of boundaries in an over for Smith, who is charging along.
73rd over: Australia 229-2 (Khawaja 93, Smith 38) Harmer to Khawaja, who keeps his cool for four balls and then knocks one into the covers. He’s been in no rush all day, played the odd big shot when he has felt like it, sailed on serenely otherwise.
74th over: Australia 231-2 (Khawaja 94, Smith 39) Two singles from the Rabada over.
72nd over: Australia 228-2 (Khawaja 92, Smith 38) Maharaj has now been dragged, unsurprisingly. Rabada returns. New ball due in nine overs, so this is not what South Africa would have planned. He starts with an overstep, no-ball called. Then short, pulled by Khawaja for one. Ditto for Smith, boundary rider back at square leg. That’s another no-ball. Khawaja defends, then glanced one. Smith forces off the back foot for two. Runs flowing, seven from that over.
71st over: Australia 221-2 (Khawaja 90, Smith 35) Khawaja into the 90s with a single. Trying different things is Harmer, firing one through at 94 kph to try to surprise Smith and hit him on the pads. Smith is equal to it.
70th over: Australia 220-2 (Khawaja 89, Smith 35) Whack goes Smith! Off the spinner this time, Maharaj going for his second six of the innings as Smith leans back and heaves over midwicket. Then charges the next ball and flicks it for four! Airborne again, more elegant in execution, bouncing inside the rope. Another couple of runs glanced to fine leg. A dozen off the over.
69th over: Australia 208-2 (Khawaja 89, Smith 23) Harmer to Khawaja, gives it flight, shifts his pace from 85 kph to 89, keeping him guessing. Strays in line allowing Khawaja a single to backward square leg. Lots of loop to Smith, who drives one.