Chasing sweep, South Africa wins toss, bats 1st in 3rd test
Australian cricket player Nic Maddinson bats in the nets during a training session in Adelaide, Australia, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016. South Africa and Australia play the third cricket test of their series starting Thursday. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) Faf du Plessis won the toss and decided to bat in the series-concluding day-night test, giving South Africa a positive start as it chases a sweep against Australia.
The South Africans won the first test by 177 runs in Perth and the second by an innings and 80 runs at Hobart, wrapping up their third consecutive test series win in Australia – something not achieved by a visiting team on Australian soil since the West Indies in the 1980s and 90s.
The South Africans made one change, with left-armer Tabraiz Shamsi replacing Keshav Maharaj as the spin bowling option.
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Du Plessis, who avoided a suspension after being found guilty by the International Cricket Council of ball tampering in the second test, said the previously uncapped Shamsi had been difficult to pick while using the pink ball in practice and would add another dimension as South Africa played a day-night test for the first time.
After serious batting collapses in the first two tests, and the resignation of chief selector Rod Marsh, the Australians picked three uncapped batsmen in the top six, recalled Matt Wade as wicketkeeper at the expense of Peter Nevill and drafted Jackson Bird back into the attack in place of Joe Mennie, who was ineffective in debut in Hobart.
Matt Renshaw, an English-born 20-year-old opener, replaced Joe Burns and will partner vice-captain David Warner at the top of the order, while Peter Handscomb and Nic Maddinson replaced veteran Adam Voges and Cullum Ferguson in the middle-order. Warner, 30, is the oldest player in the XI, Australia's least experienced in a test match in decades.
The first ever day-night test was played at the Adelaide Oval a year ago, with Australia winning a low-scoring match against New Zealand.
Australia captain Steve Smith said the pitch wasn't quite as green, and changes to the pink ball would make the contest more even between batsmen and bowlers.
Australia has lost five straight tests – including all three in Sri Lanka in July and August – but Smith said he's hoping the injection of youth will arrest the slide.
''They're going to be up for the fight, up for the challenge,'' Smith said. ''Hopefully we can turn things around in this test match.''
Australia: David Warner, Matt Renshaw, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith (captain), Peter Handscomb, Nic Maddinson, Matthew Wade, Mitch Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird.
South Africa: Stephen Cook, Dean Elgar, Hashim Amla, J.P. Duminy, Faf du Plessis (captain), Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Kyle Abbott, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi.
Umpires: Richard Kettleborough and Nigel Llong, England.
TV Umpire: Aleem Dar, Pakistan. Match Referee: Andy Pycroft.