Australia, who are already 2-0 up in the three-match series, won the toss and opted to bat first in the third and final Test match against South Africa in Sydney. They lost senior opener David Warner who smashed a brilliant double century in the previous match, for 10 as he was dismissed by Anrich Nortje in the fourth over.
However, a controversial decision stole the spotlight on the first day of the third Test at the SCG, while bad light and rain caused major delays. Labuschagne was on 70 when Simon Harmer and the South African fielders claimed a low catch at first slip off the bowling of Jansen. South Africa felt they had him caught at first slip, only for the third umpire to give the prolific Queenslander a second life.
Watch the video here:
Caught at slip! Or maybe not…— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) January 4, 2023
Marnus Labuschagne is not out on 70 #AUSvSA pic.twitter.com/OZ6N06fRZ6
The South Africans were frustrated and captain Dean Elgar was shown in conversation with the umpires after the decision had been made. The on-field umpires referred the decision with a soft signal of out, only for third umpire, Richard Kettleborough, to rule that the ball had touched the ground between the fingers of Harmer.
Early stumps on the first day of the third Test
Soon after the controversy, bad light stopped play at drinks in the second session, with South Africa opting not to only bowl their spinners under heavy clouds, bringing about an early tea break, during which rain arrived.
Labuschagne and Usman Khawaja, however, struck half-centuries as the hosts continued their domination over South Africa’s bowlers. Labuschagne was the dominant partner in the century stand. He smashed 13 fours in his brilliant knock of 79 off 151 balls. Khawaja was batting on a resilient 54 off 121 balls, having struck six fours.
There was no improvement in the light and getting worse with the rain threat as well. The play was officially called off for the day. On a slow Sydney track, Australia opted to bat and looked set for another marathon innings, but the dismissal of Labuschagne will give South Africa some hope and energy ahead of day 2.
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