Australia remains in a strong position in the Boxing Day Test against South Africa with David Warner eyeing a big score on day two.
Warner went past fifty in the first session, making his first Test half-century since March, while he is eyeing his first century in almost three years.
Australia is 2-101 — trailing by 88 runs — with David Warner (67) and Steve Smith (7) at the crease.
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A century is only possible for Warner after Marnus Labuschagne (14) effectively ran himself out after a mix-up with Warner.
Kerry O’Keeffe said it was a “selfless” act from Labuschagne to attempt to make the run having initially tried to send Warner back.
Meanwhile, Mitchell Starc is set to miss the Sydney Test against South Africa with an injury to his middle finger worse than first realised.
Australia’s star bowler has been cleared to continue playing in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG, and may still bowl if required after injuring his finger while trying to take a catch in the outfield on day one.
But Fox Cricket understands that his summer is all but certain to end after Melbourne — and he will then be out indefinitely with a tour of India fast approaching.
Starc’s finger is not broken, but there is damage to a tendon on his bowling hand that will rule him out of the final Test of the summer.
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Australia XI: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins (c), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland
South Africa XI: Dean Elgar (c), Sarel Erwee, Theunis de Bruyn, Temba Bavuma, Khaya Zondo, Kyle Verreynne (wk), Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi
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Earlier,South African legend Shaun Pollock however had concerns over how Starc would get through the match given the importance of the middle and index fingers in the bowling motion.
“I think it’s a big problem, those are the two that really count,” he said on Fox Cricket.
“Even if you have an injection, it doesn’t really do the job because you want to feel the release of the ball.
“If you’ve got a numb finger, I suppose it’d be like having an injection into your gum when you finish at the dentist – it just doesn’t feel right.
“For him to come out and try and bowl with it, it’s a huge blow. Every time that arm goes over, the force that goes over, it’ll obviously create a lot of pain.”
Pollock also noted that players are “not allowed to have strapping on that finger” like Starc did on Monday.
It came after close friend and teammate Nathan Lyon admitted the 32-year fast bowler’s injury “doesn’t look the greatest”.
“Not ideal, I don’t think,” Lyon said of Star’s finger injury to cricket.com.au. “He’s popped off for a scan now. Fingers crossed we can get the best possible result with his scan.
“I don‘t know what he’s technically done, but it doesn’t look the greatest.
“He went out the back and tried to bowl, but I think it (felt) a bit different to be honest.
“Unfortunately, injuries are part of the game … all we can hope for is he gets the best possible result with the scan – he‘s there as we speak.”
Starc, who last week became the seventh Australian bowler to reach 300 test wickets, returned to the field but didn’t bowl as young gun allrounder Cameron Green cleaned up South Africa’s tail as the Proteas were all out for 189.
Australia goes into day two full of confidence after a maiden five-wicket haul from Green put the hosts in a commanding position.
Green ended with career-best bowling figures of 5-27 from 10.4 overs to cap off a big few days for the 23-year old after becoming Australia’s most expensive player ever brought at an IPL auction at $3 million for Mumbai Indians.
David Warner got Australia off to a promising start with the bat, with 32 runs at stumps as it trailed South Africa by 144 runs with nine wickets remaining.
Milestone man Warner is chasing his first red-ball century for almost three years in his 100th Test.