South Africa won the first Test against Australia by 177 runs    Getty Images
South Africa won the first Test against Australia by 177 runs Getty Images

South Africa started their journey down under with a 177-run victory over Australia at Western Australia Cricket Association (WACA) stadium at Perth. South Africa are in Australia to play three Test matches. The team entered the contest with a lot of confidence, having defeated New Zealand in Tests at home in Tests and defeating Australia 5-0 in One-Day Internationals (ODIs). Though they had not started off on a very positive note, they put in their hundred per cent to make a comeback and eventually win the match. The victory will boost them with even more confidence. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Australia vs South Africa, 1st Test at Perth

South Africa had won the toss and elected to bat first. Their performance was a disappointing one, as they put up a par score of 242 in the first innings. Top-order flopped while it was skipper Faf du Plessis, Temba Bavuma and Quinton de Kock turned saviours for the side and the combined effort helped them put on some runs on the board. The dual attack of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood seemed to be lethal and surviving on a bouncy Perth wicket looked tough for the visitors.

Australia, in reply, could do nothing different. Though David Warner and Shaun Marsh had provided them with a solid start, they failed to hold on to the momentum, losing too many wickets and later on failing to build up any other partnership at all. Their innings ended with 248 runs on the board, Warner emerged as the highest run-getter with his 97-run innings. FULL CRICKET UPDATES: Australia vs South Africa, 1st Test at Perth

The following innings was a run-feast for the South Africa team. Though they lost Stephen Cook and Hashim Amla early, Dean Elgar and JP Duminy made it up for them. Both batsmen scored centuries and in turn built a 250-run partnership to push South Africa’s score beyond 300. More contributions came from the middle-order, with Quinton de Kock and Vernon Philander scoring half-centuries and a special innings of 41 off 34 by Keshav Maharaj that helped the team put up 540 runs for 8 wickets before the declaration.

Australia could not do justice with the bat. The batting failed, except Usman Khawaja and Peter Nevill, and South Africa eased their way to a 177-run victory. As they end Day Five on a victorious note, here are the highlights of the day’s play.

Usman Khawaja’s gritty 97: It is not easy to keep one’s calm while there are wickets falling at the other end continuously but Khawaja played a gritty knock as he scored 97 crucial runs to keep the hosts in the hunt. The team had lost their biggest hope, David Warner, who is in good runs now, for 35 chasing a 500 plus target. Soon departed other top-order batsmen like Shaun Marsh, Steven Smith but Khawaja held his ground strong. He gradually completed his half-century and looked set for a century but lost his wicket playing a wrong shot. Till the time the batsman was at the crease, Australia had the hopes alive.

Peter Nevill-Josh Hazlewood partnership: After Khawaja’s dismissal, there hardly seemed to be any chance for Australia to save the match but the brief partnership between Nevill and Hazlewood came as a ray of hope. The duo looked in sync and at one point of time, the partnership was able to create some pressure upon Faf du Plessis which made his opt for frequent bowling changes. Hazlewood departed for 29, ending the 65-run partnership.

Temba Bavuma’s maiden wicket: Bavuma did it all in this Test, batting, bowling and fielding in the literal meaning. He scored a very good 51 in the first innings, effected a superb run-out and while handed the ball, bowled well. In the very first ball he bowled, he got a set Usman Khawaja for a plumb lbw but he overstepped a little and the delivery was declared a no-ball. Noticeably, Bavuma bowled in the right areas, pitching it at the cracks and produced many chances. He remained successful as Hazlewood edged the ball to the cover fielder.

Aleem Dar the human DRS: With Decision Review System (DRS) at hand, the recent games have witnessed the captains making full use of it to be extra sure. While experienced umpires like Kumar Dharmasena and Nigel Llong have seen their reviews being overturned, Aleem Dar so far has a hundred per cent strike rate, getting all his decisions correct. DRS – 0, Aleem Dar – 2.

Peter Nevill’s 60-run knock: Though the knock could not win them the match, it surely is worth many praises. Nevill showed some good footwork and kept the spirit of the game alive, trying hard till the last delivery possible. He had tail-enders at the other end but played a sensible knock, remaining unbeaten.

Proteas’ win-rally at Perth: Australia’s record has not been exceptional at Perth, despite the stadium being one of their major cricketing venues at home. South Africa, with this victory, did a 3-0 at Perth in all their recent outings there. It started from 2008 which they continued doing in 2012 and repeated the same in 2016 with a 177-run margin. For that matter, South Africa have never lost a Test at Perth against the hosts.

(Paulami Chakraborty, a singer, dancer, artist, and photographer, loves the madness of cricket and writes about the game. She can be followed on Twitter at @Polotwitts)