Australia cruised to a seven-wicket consolation victory in the day-night third Test on Sunday after dismissing South Africa for 250 and knocking off the 127 runs for victory for the loss of three wickets before dinner on day four.
There was a minor scare when, with 63 runs still required, Dave Warner was run-out for 47 and Usman Khawaja dismissed for a duck inside one over but there was never any real doubt that Australia would avoid a first ever 3-0 sweep on home soil.
Opener Matt Renshaw, one of three new caps brought into the Australia side after heavy defeats in the first two Tests, scored 34 not out and brought the hosts level after his captain Steve Smith was dismissed for 40 with only two runs required.
It was left to another debutant, Peter Handscomb, to score the winning run with a single to midwicket.
It was Australia’s second pink ball victory after they beat New Zealand in the inaugural day-night Test in Adelaide last year but more importantly ended a run of five defeats going back to their 3-0 series loss in Sri Lanka earlier this year.
While the success of the overhaul of the batting line-up remains largely moot ahead of the visit of Pakistan, the strength of Australian pace bowling on home soil is not in doubt.
Left-arm paceman Mitchell Starc earlier finished with figures of 4-80 as Australia removed the last four South African batsmen for the addition of 56 runs to their overnight second innings tally.
WARNER IN A HURRY
South Africa had resumed on 194-6 but lost Quinton de Kock in the third over of the day before the new ball accounted for Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada and finally opener Stephen Cook.
Cook, under pressure after making a minor contribution to the victories in the first two Tests, had eked out his second Test century off 235 balls, bringing up the milestone by pulling Josh Hazlewood to the square leg boundary for his eighth four.
He was unable to add any more in the five further deliveries he faced before Starc got one to nip back in and bowl him for 104 to bring an end to the innings.
Warner was prevented from opening in Australia’s first innings after Faf du Plessis’s tactical declaration on 259-9 left him stranded off the field receiving treatment.
The Australia vice-captain looked like he was intent reaching the victory target on his own and had hit 47 runs off 51 balls when he went for a single, only for Renshaw to change his mind and leave him stranded as the bails came off.
Two balls later and left-arm spinner Tabraiz Shamsi had his second Test victim when he reviewed a not out decision against Khawaja and the third umpire confirmed the batsman had been trapped leg before.
Khawaja’s place in the side is safe for the three-Test series against the nation of his birth around the New Year, however, after he hit 145 of Australia’s 383 first innings runs.
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