Australia are on the backfoot in the first Test    Getty Images
Australia are on the backfoot in the first Test Getty Images

Having turned around the tables dramatically at Australia, the touring South African cricket team has consolidated their position in the ongoing first Test of their three-match series at the WACA Ground in Perth. South Africa produced dominant performances with both bat and ball to outgun Australia and ended the second day of the opening Test with the game in their firm control. Australia were less than ordinary, and now will have a huge challenge in their hands to control the damage that has been caused due to their poor batting on the second day, and try and get back into the contest. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Australia vs South Africa, 1st Test at Perth

It was South Africa all the way at WACA on the second day, as they bowled out Australia for a paltry 244 after the hosts resumed the play being strongly placed at 105 for no loss. David Warner and Shaun Marsh may have looked good for their respective half-centuries, but both the batsmen failed to get to the triple-figure mark. While Warner fell for a fine 97, the left-handed Marsh was dismissed for 63. No other Australian batsman could make a mark, with all their 10 wickets falling for less than 100 runs.

Australia suffered an embarrassing batting collapse in the first innings of the first Test of their big home summer, and their chances of winning this contest with every single run that South Africa add to their total. Resuming at 105 for no loss, Australia lost their first wicket in form of David Warner at the score of 158 in 35.2 overs. By 70.2 overs, the entire Australian cricket team was bowled out for mere 244 as they took a slender lead of 2 runs. ALSO READ: Dale Steyn’s absence and SA’s maturity: Conflicting emotions for a Proteas fan

South Africa bowled with tremendous discipline, with Vernon Philander leading from the front. Dale Steyn, who provided the first breakthrough in form of Warner, has unfortunately suffered a fracture in his shoulder and has been ruled out for at least 6 months. However, it did not look like South Africa missed their pace spearhead at all. Philander bagged 4 for 56 off his 19.2 overs and debutant Keshav Maharaj became the first spinner playing his first match at WACA to take wickets. Maharaj claimed 3 for 56 off his 18.2 overs.

At present, South Africa lead by 102 in the second innings. The pitch has started to develop some cracks in the middle but none of this will have any impact if Australia themselves continue to play poor cricket. There were two batsmen who failed to open their account Steven Smith and Mitchell Marsh did not even trouble the scorers a bit. Apart from Warner and Marsh, Adam Voges was the third highest run-getter with 60 off 27 runs.

In their second innings, South Africa were 104 for 2 in 40 overs. Dean Elgar was batting on 46 not out, having faced as many as 117 deliveries and struck 4 boundaries and 1 six. His opening partner, Stephen Cook, looked very brittle in the early stages of their second innings, but as the game progressed, the right-hander grew in confidence. However, he disappointed once again with a 55-ball 12, studded with 2 boundaries.

With a strong lead in their kitty, South Africa s aim will be to keep piling up pressure on Australia after putting up strong performances across departments on the third day of the Test. South Africa will try and add at least 300-350 more runs in this Test and out-bat Australia from the contest. With three full days of cricket left in the Test, there is more than enough time for South Africa to achieve what will guarantee them a victory in this three-Test series.

On the other hand, Australia will rue playing extremely poor cricket throughout the day. What will mortify the formerly world No. 1 side is the fact that they were simply brilliant with both bat and ball on the first day of the Australian summer, but everything fizzled out as soon as the second day arrived.

For Australia to get back into the contest, they will have to restrict South Africa with a flurry of wickets on the third day morning. It will be extremely tough for their bowlers as South Africa have batted far more responsibly compared to what they did in the first innings, and the pitch also looked like it had eased for batting. Even if Australia manage to spark a collapse in the South African ranks and restrict them to a gettable total, the hosts will have to bat extremely well to achieve the target. Warner, after the end of play, did say that Australia can achieve any target, but looking at how they batted in the first essay, their chances look bleak.

(Devarchit Varma is a senior writer with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)