Australia were in full command of the second Test against South Africa at MCG, Melbourne, after they ended the day two’s play at 386 for three thanks to a remarkable double hundred by David Warner.
It means they are also now on track to beat South Africa at home for the first time since the 2005-06 summer.
Warner, who is playing his 100th Test to become the 14th Australian to reach the milestone, faced 254 balls and scored at a strike rate of 78.74 on scorching day with temperature touching 40 degrees Celsius.
And he left the crease only after suffering cramps as he was no in mood to fall prey to the South African bowlers who toiled hard to bag only two wickets during the day.
It was another seasoned campaigner Steve Smith who 239-run partnership after the fall of Marnus Labuschagne (14) who was runout while attempting to steal another run after an overthrow. The team total was 75 at that time.
Before this year’s Boxing Day Test, the heat was on David Warner. Nearly three years without a Test century amid more broadly declining batting returns did not match the celebratory tone of the week leading up to his 100th Test match.
He was 200 not out when he limped off with cramps near the end of a scorching day. The South Africans had no such respite, bowling through to stumps when Australia led by 197, the score at 386 for three with two retired hurt who may return tomorrow.
On the other hand, Smith was full of determination and patience, spending a long period on seven and another on 33. His 30th Test century looked a formality, but South Africa in desperation brought back Nortje before the new ball was due, and Smith steered a catch to gully on 85.
By that point Warner’s 25th century was well behind him, and his third double ton was coming up. His celebration when the hundred arrived was perhaps his most expressive in his whole decade of Test cricket, thrashing his bat towards different sections of the stand. His reaction to the double was one of delighted exhaustion, arms spread wide, an attempt to leap into the air undermined by the savage calf cramp that would soon see him retire.
Meanwhile, the only problems the Australians are the injuries: Nortje smashed Cameron Green on his right index finger and forced him to retire late in the day, while Mitchell Starc injured his own bowling hand while fielding a day earlier. Those two injuries combined could leave the hosts short in the third innings.
That will be a while off, with more batting to come. Travis Head finished the day with 48 not out that he typically made in the blink of an eye, Alex Carey is there on nine, and Warner could return to bat on the third day after a night’s rest and electrolytes. Indeed, knowing what we do of his character, he is probably raring to do just that. Joe Root is the only other player to have made a double century in his 100th Test match. Nobody has made a triple, and there are three days left to play.