The Proteas were bowled out for 242 before a David Warner blitz saw Australia close on 105-0 on day one in Perth.
When the Proteas won the toss at a ground they’ve never lost at before, they would have hoped for much better than the performance they put out on day one at the Waca.
Perhaps they can draw inspiration from the fact that they were bowled out for 225 in their 309-run victory at the same ground four years ago, but perhaps not, seeing as they bowled Australia out for 163 in response. With Australia reaching stumps on 105-0, that seems highly improbable this time around.
It will be interesting to see whether the decision to include debutant Keshav Maharaj instead of paceman Morne Morkel pays off, as Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada took a bit of a hit from Warner, while Vernon Philander was unlucky not to see the back of him early on in his innings. Maharaj bowled two expensive overs on a pitch that doesn’t appear to offer too much for the spinners yet.
Mitchell Starc set the tone in the first over of the match by squaring up Stephen Cook for a duck. He would finish with figures of 4-71. If there were any concerns surrounding his fitness and lack of match practice, then there aren’t any more.
It was Josh Hazlewood (3-70) who impressed the most with the new ball in his first match against the Proteas. The ball of the day was undoubtedly his one that shaped in just enough to find Hashim Amla’s edge for another duck.
Dean Elgar (12) and JP Duminy (11) both feathered an edge to Peter Nevill from there, leaving the Proteas reeling on 32-4. Faf du Plessis and Temba Bavuma were left to clean up the mess, and they did so valiantly in the morning session as Du Plessis strode to 37.
The skipper departed after the break on the same score, but Bavuma pushed on untroubled, reaching his third Test half-century in the process. His compact style of play complemented the attacking flair of Quinton de Kock in their 71-run stand, but an excellent catch from Shaun Marsh at short-leg would mark the end of Bavuma’s knock two balls after he reached his fifty.
Vernon Philander (10) dragged one on after he attempted a pull shot that wasn’t on offer on the last ball before tea, but an encouraging, aggressive stand then followed between De Kock and Maharaj, piling on 43 inside seven overs.
It was an important stand to drag the side past 200, but they both went out needlessly, trying one big shot too many. Maharaj was caught in the deep on 16 as he tried to loft one over the long-on boundary rope, before De Kock skied one to fall 16 runs short of what would have been a memorable Test ton.
Starc and Nathan Lyon cleaned up the tail to skittle the tourists for 242.
Unfortunately what the visitors then witnessed was every bit of a player who averages 95.85 at the Waca and 68.08 against the Proteas, as he made the dry Waca track look like a playground. Warner plundered 10 fours and a six in just 39 balls to reach a 22nd Test fifty.
Philander might be left wondering what could have been, as Du Plessis decided to review a Warner lbw decision when he was on 17, with replays suggesting it would have been a good review if it weren’t for the no-ball that umpire Aleem Dar didn’t spot in real time.
Marsh proved a steady sidekick as he strode to 29, but the day belonged to the bowlers and Warner, who will look to continue to chip away at the deficit with the powerful left-hander on 73 off just 62 deliveries.
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