Warner full of belief as Australia clinch Test series with innings win over South Africa

Opener's double century helps hosts to an innings and 182-run victory in Melbourne

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David Warner said he never doubted his abilities after his milestone double century helped Australia to an emphatic innings victory over South Africa to wrap up the series in the second Test in Melbourne on Thursday.

After bowling out South Africa for 189 on the first day, Australia racked up a mammoth 575-8 declared, with Warner producing a double century in his 100th Test. Wicketkeeper Alex Carey (111) also helped himself to a century, while half centuries from Steve Smith (85) and Travis Head (51), and an unbeaten 51 by Cameron Green put the hosts firmly on control.

The Proteas were put back into bat for the final few overs on day three and after starting the fourth day on 15-1, were unable to provide much resistance against a seemingly inevitable Australia victory.

Temba Bavuma's 144-ball 65 was South Africa's only score of note in the second innings as Nathan Lyon led the Australia attack with figures of 3-58. Scott Boland helped himself to two wickets, while Mitchell Starc, captain Pat Cummins, and Smith took one apiece as Australia won by an innings and 182 runs.

Warner was named man of the match after the 36-year-old opener ended a near-three-year century drought in superb, gritty style. Warner was forced to retire with severe cramps at the end of Day 2, before returning on Day 3 without being able to add to his score.

"Phenomenal achievement by the boys," Warner said. "We saw some crazy stuff from Carey and Green.

"This one is up there. I never doubted my abilities. It is all about coming out here, I have trained my backside off in the nets. Just needed to get out there and perform on the big stage."

Australia skipper Cummins was delighted with his team's display and dedicated the victory to the late Shane Warne, the Australia cricket great who died in March.

"The win is right up there. We have had a number of great contests against South Africa over the years. It's really sweet and something to be proud of," he said.

"The way the two veterans of our side, David Warner and Steve Smith batted in the heat was gutsy, and then for Starc to bowl through injury, and Green to bat like that - we are really proud of that effort.

"Warner's energy was great and to do it in his 100th Test was great. Carey is one of our favourites; he has been awesome for us in white-ball cricket.

"The Boxing Day is a huge event and this year even more special celebrating Warnie."

South Africa captain Dan Elgar believes his side's lack of experience this series has been exposed and called on the team to bounce back quickly and salvage some pride the third and final Test in Sydney, starting Tuesday, having lost the opening match in Brisbane by six wickets.

"Not easy at the moment, was a bit of a hammering that," Elgar said. "We have to come up to speed to the intensity Test cricket deserves. We were good in periods, but it is not a lot.

"The inexperience is hitting us hard. We have lost a lot of batters in the last few years. There are opportunities for guys to make their spots their own, but the inexperience is hurting us. Lot to play for, lot to ride on. 2-1 sounds better than 3-0. We have not been up to speed and have to move on pretty quickly."

Updated: December 29, 2022, 8:20 AM
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