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Victorious in Perth

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Australia_South_Africa_Test_series_CricketThere are three players of African origin, two of Indian origin and a Cape-Coloured South African. Among the others of the eleven, one finds Afrikaans-speaking players of Dutch origin and men who trace their ancestry back to Britain. That’s diversity there, for you. Not seven, but a rainbow nevertheless. A true rainbow-nation team, which defeated the Aussies on home soil – and at the WACA in Perth more importantly.

The Aussies have won 24 of the 43 matches played at the WACA thus far, the first win against Mike Denness’ England in the Ashes series of 1974. Of course, they have lost a few as well – their first time was a miserable defeat against the West Indies in 1975 by an innings and 87 runs.

England prevailed over the Aussies at the WACA only once all these years, way back in 1978, against a Packer-depleted side. It is high time… Cook and his men may want to do an encore four decades down the line, if they get to play at the WACA at all instead of the new Perth Stadium at Burswood.

All the wins registered by the West Indians at Perth (there were four more after the first), have been convincing indeed. They had the pace arsenal in the 1980s and thereafter the genius of Ambrose and Walsh in the 1990s. As the WACA favoured pacemen, well, it worked wonders for the likes of them!

New Zealand triumphed at the WACA Perth in 1985. This was when the Australian team was rebuilding itself after Greg Chappell, Dennis Lillee and Rodney Marsh had retired, and when Richard Hadlee was at his most magnificent. India did it in 2008 thanks to Dravid’s 93, Laxman’s 79 and excellent bowling by R P Singh, Irfan Pathan and Anil Kumble. The Proteas have done it thrice – in 2008, 2012 and now in 2016. The second win was by a margin of over 300 runs. This was a match in which AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla contributed 169 & 196 runs respectively to a huge total in the second innings.

 

This win made it a hat-trick for the South Africans. And curiously indeed, just as AB and Amla scored big in the second innings in 2012, Dean Elgar and JP Duminy took up the roles this time with a pair of centuries contributing to their 250 run partnership (only the third 200+ run partnership by South Africans in Australia). Even more curiously, there were two centuries in the second innings in 2008 as well when the Proteas defeated the Aussies for the first time at the WACA. It was AB again, with Graeme Smith also reaching 3 figures, as the Proteas chased down 414 in the 4th innings. Duminy and Amla also figured prominently in this run-chase with half-centuries to their names. The Proteas went on to win the series, 2-1.

The most recent victory was, of course, achieved without AB de Villiers in their ranks. Faf du Plessis served as the skipper. If AB had been around this time, it could very well have been déjà vu for him…

More importantly, this time around Philander’s 73 and Maharaj’s 41 just rubbed more and more salt into the wounds of the Aussie bowlers. Vernon contributing with the bat consistently is a positive sign for the Proteas. One may not label him as an all-rounder perhaps, but he has been one.

We of Indian descent are proud of Ish Sodhi and Devendra Bishoo, the leggies who represent New Zealand and the West Indies respectively. We can now also be proud of Keshav Maharaj, the Durban-born left-arm spinner of Indian origin, who enjoyed a decent debut at Perth, a fast bowler’s paradise.

There are two more Tests to go. One at the Bellerive Oval and the other at the Adelaide Oval. The Aussies will not take anything more lying down, for sure. The Proteas have got the boost they need, with contributions from almost everyone in the playing eleven – both bowlers and batsmen. It is just a question of carrying on. But we know the Aussies well. We know what they are capable of. That makes this series, as it progresses, all the more interesting.

 

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G Venkatesh (born 1972) is a senior lecturer in Energy and Environment, at Karlstad University in S...

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