HomeReportsAUS vs SA Day 1: Darcie Brown's Fifer, Alyssa Healy-Beth Mooney Help...

AUS vs SA Day 1: Darcie Brown’s Fifer, Alyssa Healy-Beth Mooney Help Australia Dominate Over South Africa

Alyssa Healy fell one run reticent of a first Test century late on the opening day of the historic Test of Australia against South Africa. A weary Healy had batted in 43-degree heat to reach 99 with only minutes left before stumps. However, the Australian skipper was denied a century when she chipped a return catch to bowler Delmi Tucker, capping a brave 124-ball innings at the WACA Ground.

Her heroics, despite arriving at the crease with Australia struggling at 3-12, left the hosts in a strong position at 5-251, dominating the Proteas by 175 runs, with Annabel Sutherland (54 no) and Ashleigh Gardner (0 no) set to return on Friday morning. South Africa, playing only their second Test since 2014, received an enormous setback before the toss when ace allrounder Marizanne Kapp was dropped late due to illness.

Their disgust continued when Darcie Brown (5-21) and Sutherland (3-19) ripped through the visitors for a record-low 76. The wickets kept falling when Masabata Klaas blasted Australia’s top order, leaving the hosts wobbling at 3-12 in response. But Healy partnered Beth Mooney (78) in the middle to anchor the hosts in a 155-run stand, with the seasoned pair showing the patience that had been lacking earlier in the day to see off the new ball before quickly erasing South Africa’s lead.

Healy was the first to raise the bat for fifty after tea, and her partner followed suit shortly after. Mooney’s dreams of scoring her first test century fell apart when she edged Nadine de Klerk to slip for 78, seven runs shy of her highest score in the format, thus shattering the 155-run fourth-wicket stand. Sutherland joined Healy in an 82-run stand, with the latter playing a stunning series of drives as she strolled to her second Test fifty – and the allrounder will be looking for a second Test century when she returns on Friday.

During an exhausting afternoon in the field, Klaas’ initial spell—which saw the 33-year-old rookie get Phoebe Litchfield (4) caught at slip, then Ellyse Perry (3) and Tahlia McGrath (0) both caught behind—was the only real bright spot for the visitors. Speedy Brown earlier became the first pacer to take five wickets in a women’s Test in Australia since Ellyse Perry in 2014, fittingly again at the WACA. Brown was called up for the Test after resting out at Wankhede Stadium in December.

The 20-year-old set the pace in a thrilling opening session that saw South Africa reduced to 8-55 by lunch and all out for 76 only ten minutes after play started. Before the game, the player had only taken three Test wickets.

Kapp’s obvious absence from South Africa’s team portrait, taken as soon as they arrived at the WACA Ground on Thursday morning, was the first sign of the calamity that would follow. Whispers circulated around the stadium that the South African superstar had fallen ill and would not be playing, which Wolvaardt verified after the coin toss.

Wolvaardt was on the losing end of a 50/50 contest for the eighth time since her arrival in Australia, as Alyssa Healy won the toss once more – a result with just a 0.39 percent probability of occurring. Some were perplexed by Healy’s decision to bowl first on a day when the highest temperature was expected to be 43 degrees Celsius.

READ MORE: Australia vs South Africa, One-Off Test: Match Details, Live Streaming, Pitch Report, Weather Forecast, Probable Playing XIs, Head-to-Head, Dream 11 Prediction

However, her decision, which was picked with the green-tinged WACA pitch in mind, was more than justified by the carnage that ensued; as it turned out, the Australians were in the field for only 31.2 overs, compared to the Proteas’ 56.

Anneke Bosch was given the task with rupture the batting in a Test for the first time alongside her captain, although her stint was brief. After getting dropped on nought by Mooney at slip off Brown’s bowling, she was forced to leave two balls later when a top edge puffed up and was pounced by Healy.

Wolvaardt asserted on match day that she had rectified the little flaws in her technique that had caused her to nick off early to Australia’s quicks in her previous two ODI innings. However, the right-hander struggled against the new red Kookaburra. Given a reprieve on three when Healy missed a chance off Garth, Mooney made no mistake a ball later, holding on to a brilliant catch to give Brown her second and leave Proteas 2–5.

Sune Luus and Tazmin Brits led a modest recovery, occupying the crease for 12.4 overs but scoring only 28 runs. A wise move to review after Sutherland’s LBW challenge against the Brits was denied paid off, with ball-tracking terminating her 48-ball innings on five.

That triggered a 6-17 collapse, with no space for discussion a ball later when Sutherland smashed debutant Delmi Tucker’s bails. Sutherland added a third when Luus edged to slip on 26, and Australia took the final five wickets, with No.10 Klaas the only other hitter to reach double digits.

South Africa had impressed with their perseverance and fortitude during the white-ball legs, despite often losing Wolvaardt reasonably, with their one batting embarrassment being a 105-all out in the first ODI at Adelaide.

However, Kapp was the driving force behind that tenacity, and with the 34-year-old star away, so was the courage. It became a parade, with a combination of superb Australian bowling, a lack of footwork, and wasteful shot-making causing South Africa’s collapse, in a performance that also underlined the difficulties of playing a novel game in wholly foreign surroundings.

Chloe Tryon’s reaction to her dismissal for five told it all. She stood there for several seconds, hand on helmet, stunned, after spooning a Brown half-volley directly to one of just two fielders in front of the wicket at the time. Much had been made of Australia’s spinner decision, with Sophie Molineux replacing incumbent Jess Jonassen – the Queenslander’s first Test absence since her debut due to selection rather than injury – but none of their three alternatives were required.

South Africa, meanwhile, picked four debutants: Klass, Tucker, Brits, and Ayanda Hlubi, as well as a left-arm spinner, Nonkululeko Mlaba, who was chosen over quick Eliz-Mari Marx.

Brief Scores: Australia vs South Africa One-off Test Day 1

Australia 251/5 (Alyssa Healy 99, Beth Mooney 78, Annabel Sutherland 54*; Masabata Klaas 3-39) lead South Africa 76/10 (Darcie Brown 5-25, Annabel Sutherland 3-19) by 175 runs.

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