The Standard Bank Proteas trio of fast bowlers captured three wickets for 10 runs with the second new ball to cap Australia’s potential first innings advantage on the second night of the third Test match at the Adelaide Oval on Friday.
Australia’s hero of the day, Usman Khawaja, had scored his fifth Test match century and his first against South Africa and shared partnerships of 137 for the third wicket with Steve Smith and 99 for the fourth with debutant Peter Handscomb. On the back of this foundation, Australia looked set to take the game away from the Proteas as they took the first innings lead with only three wickets down.
But, by the close, the Proteas had restricted that lead to 48 runs, with the home side only having four wickets left in the bank.
One of those, however, is that of Khawaja who finished unbeaten on 138 (285 balls, 12 fours), having batted for more than a day. It was the first century scored by the Australians in the series, and it was also the first time that the home side had managed to bat for a full day.
He will be key to Australia turning their current advantage into something very significant. So far, Mitchell Starc has helped him add 24 for the seventh wicket although the latter got the rub of the green when a successful lbw appeal by Vernon Philander was reversed literally by a couple of millimetres.
Khawaja is certainly Australia’s form player at the moment, having scored more than 100 runs more than any of his teammates with an average in the mid-70s.
Smith and Handscomb both got half-centuries with the former being run out in what may turn out to be a key wicket given away by the hosts.
The South African bowled largely without luck. Kagiso Rabada produced the delivery of the day to knock over another debutant, Nick Maddinson, without scoring, while Kyle Abbott carried forward his good form from Hobart to have a return of 3/38 in 25 overs.