Khawaja, Smith steer Australia to 109-2 in 3rd test v SA
ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) With of one of Australia's rookies already out and two others next in line to bat, the relatively experienced Usman Khawaja and skipper Steve Smith soaked up the pressure on Friday and guided the hosts to 109-2 by the end of the first session on day two of the day-night test against South Africa.
Resuming a 14-0 after South Africa's first innings of 259-9 declared, Australia needed a strong performance by its top order following back-to-back losses in Perth and Hobart that had already decided the series.
Australia made five changes to the XI in a bid to arrest a losing streak and avoid being swept 3-0 on home soil.
Khawaja, forced to be makeshift opener for the innings as David Warner was not fit to bat on Thursday night, batted cautiously early before a flourish to reach his sixth test half century just before the interval with consecutive pulled boundaries against Kyle Abbott.
The third-wicket pair added 72 after Abbott had taken two wickets in an outstanding opening spell that had Australia in trouble at 37-2. Khawaja was unbeaten on 58 at the interval and Smith was 23.
Matt Renshaw (10) , the 20-year-old English-born opener who is among three young batsmen on debut, added only two to his overnight score before edging Abbott into the slips, where Dean Elgar took a superb catch diving across from third slip in front of second.
Warner, whose injury absence prompted Faf du Plessis' declaration, joined Khawaja and started in typically attacking form but was out for 11 when he edged Abbott and offered a regulation catch to Elgar at third slip.
With Peter Handscomb and Nic Maddinson – both playing their first test – coming in at No. 5 and No. 6, it was up to the established test batsmen to play for time.
Du Plessis had no trouble doing that on the opening day, when he booed as he strode to the crease and again when he reached his century, after a week in which he was found guilty of ball tampering by the International Cricket Council for the way he shined the ball with a mint in his mouth in the second test in Hobart.
Cricket South Africa announced overnight it had appealed the ICC decision, which resulted in du Plessis being fined but avoiding a match suspension.
The South Africa skipper says he's done nothing wrong, that cricketers all over the world do the same thing regularly, and that the ICC has made him a scapegoat.