Usman Khawaja is undefeated on 195, rain interrupted play on day 2

Australia’s drive for a series sweep over South Africa and a certain position in the World Test Championship final has been hampered by the cancellation of day three of the third NRMA Insurance Test. After 57 overs were lost due to inclement weather at the SCG over the first two days, no play was possible on Friday under Sydney’s dismal skies before stumps were called early as Usman Khawaja was undefeated on 195.

Usman Khawaja made to wait as day three washed out

Usman Khawaja is undefeated on 195, rain interrupted play on day 2-1-3

When rain interrupted play on day two, Australia was 4-475, with Usman Khawaja undefeated on 195 and on his way to his first Test double century. That had created the ground for Australia to bat large in the first innings and consider a possible follow-on scenario if they were able to easily dispatch South Africa. That now seems to be Australia’s sole shot at victory.

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Captain Pat Cummins said earlier this summer that the follow-on was doomed in Test cricket unless extraordinary circumstances occurred. Given the weather and the fact that Australia’s twin-spin approach allows for the bulk of the effort to be split by slower bowlers, the Sydney Test might meet the criteria. The heavy rain has also created new concerns over the schedule of the annual Sydney Test.

Usman Khawaja is undefeated on 195, rain interrupted play on day 2-1

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The cancellation on Friday represented the 26th entirely rained-out day in the SCG’s Test history, significantly more than any other venue in Australia as Usman Khawaja was undefeated on 195. Rain has disrupted six of the last seven Tests, and bad lighting has also been a concern in recent years. Although January is usually a wetter month in Sydney than November and December, Cricket Australia authorities have said that shifting the Test is not an option.

Usman Khawaja is undefeated on 195, rain interrupted play on day 2--3

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Because the match has been so well-known for rain in previous years, this year’s Test has incorporated sponsor branding on the covers, so Usman Khawaja has to wait for fir his double hundred. Some of the pink Jane McGrath charity events have also been rescheduled to day four of the match when better weather is forecast. If the match ends in a tie, South Africa will have gone 46 matches without a draw, the most recent being in March 2017.

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