Faf du Plessis scored his sixth Test century at the same ground he scored a century at on debut, as SA declared on 259-9.
Australia navigated their way through the final 12 overs of the day to go into day two on 14-0, trailing the Proteas by 245 runs.
It’s difficult to say whose day it belonged to, but the tourists will certainly be the one with their tails up, as Du Plessis’ ton took them from 165-7 to 259-9 – the highest day-night Test total at the Adelaide Oval.
It’s been a turbulent week for Du Plessis, who has divided opinion across the cricketing world after being charged by the ICC for ball-tampering, but after being cleared to play in this match on Tuesday, he’s cleared his mind as well in what was an incredible response from the skipper.
With batsmen constantly falling around him, Du Plessis soaked up the pressure and brought up his sixth Test ton and his second in Adelaide after reaching the milestone here on his debut. This, after being greeted to a chorus of boos around the ground when he walked to the crease.
He won the toss and chose to bat first, with Australia looking to avoid a whitewash Test series defeat for the first time in their history.
It was Australia who took control of the match in the first two sessions, with Josh Hazlewood tearing through the top order with four wickets. Mitchell Starc would be the first to find the breakthrough, finding Dean Elgar’s edge for five.
Hashim Amla and JP Duminy both walked back for five themselves thanks to Hazlewood’s effort, leaving Stephen Cook to grind it out with Du Plessis.
Cook’s innings was scratchy at best and was fortunate not to be trapped lbw when he was on four, only for the third umpire to signal a no-ball. Starc did eventually get his man for the third time in this series, with the 33-year-old departing for 40.
Du Plessis struggled to find any willing partners as Quinton de Kock fell for a flashy 24, but the captain took matters into his own hands and went into the dinner break on 65. Kyle Abbott did a sturdy job at the other end from there, soaking up 50 deliveries for his 17. Kagiso Rabada fell for one, but not before Du Plessis raised his bat for South Africa’s first-ever pink-ball ton.
An entertaining 39-run stand then followed between him and the devil-may-car debutant Tabraiz Shamsi, before the skipper decided on the declaration. Stroke of genius or not, his decision to declare when he did meant David Warner was unable to open the batting due to spending too much time off the field.
Usman Khawaja and Matt Renshaw strode out to face the new ball under the lights, and they did a pretty solid job of seeing it off, as they go into day two on 14-0.
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