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Khawaja, Labuschagne put Australia in driving seat amidst bad light interruptions

image-lchboacpLabuschagne scored a gritty 79 [Source: Associated Press]

Bad light and rain interruptions ruined a wonderful day of Test cricket at the Sydney Cricket Ground. 

On a day when fans were left frustrated due to regular interventions, Australian supporters at-least had something to cheer about as the home team finished Day 1 at 147 for 2, courtesy of a stellar 79 from the numero uno - Marnus Labuschagne and an unbeaten 54 from Usman Khawaja.

However, the Test match started with a bit of drama when Matt Renshaw, playing his first Test since 2018, tested Covid positive after feeling unwell before the day's play. But the southpaw was given the permission to continue playing the Test match.

Cummins won the toss and elected to bat on a dry surface. With the SCG track set to play more traditionally, Australia includes two spinners in their playing XI, with Ashton Agar making his long awaited Test return.

South Africa had the early laugh with the wicket of David Warner. Anrich Nortje continued his dream run and got the crucial wicket of Warner to set up a brilliant day of play.

But that was the only joy for the Proteas for the next two sessions as the in-form Labuschagne and Khawaja steadied the Australian ship. The wicket hardly had anything for the pacers and the duo took full advantage of it. 

Both the batters played with caution in the first session, but the post-lunch session saw them take the aggressive route as the Aussies added 70 runs in just 15 overs before bad light halted the game.

However, the biggest talking point of the session was when Labuschagne was on 70. He appeared to be dismissed when he nicked a delivery from Marco Jansen to the slip cordon, where Simon Harmer took a low catch. It was given out on the soft signal but Labuschagne stood his ground. 

Through replays it became difficult to judge whether Harmer had his hands beneath the ball and as a result the third umpire had to overturn the decision.

Harmer even had his moment of joy when he trapped Khawaja lbw on the second delivery of the second session only for the replays to show that the ball had struck the gloves first.

Khawaja quietly went about his business and also crossed the 4000-run mark in Test cricket en-route to a half-century.

Bad light and rain joined forces as the game was halted for a long time. Eventually when the match started, the break did wonders for South Africa as Nortje sent back Labuschagne with a well directed bouncer which was taken by Verreynne. 

Umpires brought out the light meter and rain accompanied once again as the play was called off for the day.

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