Captain Pat Cummins has a decision to make before the fourth day on Saturday: declare the team’s first innings at 475 for four and have the Proteas at bat or give Usman Khawaja the chance to claim his first Double Century Test.
Strains. No play possible on day three in Sydney. The pre-game ceremony for Jane McGrath Day will now take place tomorrow morning #AUSvSA
– cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) 1672981032000
Khawaja was stuck on 195 when rain ended play on Thursday, his highest Test score. Matt Renshawwho tested positive for Covid at the start of the game, was five steps out.
Another deciding factor will be the state of the pitch at Sydney Cricket Ground after three days of rain breaks.
Frequent rain and wicket coverage prevented the pitch from drying out and deteriorating from wear and tear for the benefit of the two spinners selected in Australia, Nathan Lyons and Ashton Agar.
Australia entered the game with just two front row leaders – Josh Hazlewood and Cummins – making their job even more difficult if the terrain isn’t as rotational as originally expected.
A rain update from The Vault: #AUSvSA https://t.co/rxgVHgHVaT
– cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) 1672977779000
The hosts are also pushing for a series of whitewashes to seal a place in the World Test Championship final in London in June.
South Africa are understandably not so concerned about the weather as they try to avoid the ignominy of a 3-0 thrashing.
“In the position we’re in, the more time that’s taken out of the game is probably more in our favor,” spinner said. Keshav Maharaj said on the second day of Thursday after rain gave South Africa much-needed respite.
“But it also puts Australia in a position where they have to make a play from now on.”
Forecasts call for improved conditions on Saturday with less rain expected before sunny conditions on the last day of Sunday.
Australia are 2-0 in the series after winning the first Test by a six-wicket rout in Brisbane in two days and then hammering the Proteas by an innings and 182 runs in Melbourne.