Faf du Plessis saves South Africa the blushes as Australia dominate Day One

Faf du Plessis remained not out on 78 and took the Proteas to a respectable total Getty Images

Perth: Nov 30, 2012

South Africa middle-order batsman Faf du Plessis came to his team s rescue for the third innings in succession at the WACA in the third Test against Australia. The 28-year-old, playing just his second Test match, scored an unbeaten 78 as the Proteas were bowled out for a respectable 225, after being at 75 for six at one point.

Coming in to bat with the score on 67 for five, du Plessis knew that his team needed his services again to dig them out of a hole. He had, in his debut Test at Adelaide, scored a defiant 78 in the first innings and an unbeaten, match-saving 110 in the second to rescue South Africa.

At the WACA on Friday, du Plessis remained not out and shared vital partnerships with Robin Peterson (31) and Vernon Philander (30) to propel South Africa to 225 after it looked like they would not get past the 150 mark at one point. Doing so, du Plessis took his Test average to 266, as the last four South African wickets tripled the score from 75 to 225.

Australia got to bat for a tense 11 overs before stumps and lost the wickets of Ed Cowan (0) and Shane Watson (10) to end the day on 33 for two.

The brief session of play was highlighted by nightwatchman Nathan Lyon’s walk to the middle at two-down. The offie was given a standing ovation from the spectators who had expected Ricky Ponting to walk out for his final Test. The latter could only smile sitting in the dressing room as 20,000-odd people, including his wife, realised their folly and calmed down, some even booing Lyon.

The Australians would be pleased with their day s efforts after losing the toss earlier in the day. Buoyed by the opportunity to unleash a totally revamped pace attack on the South Africans in the series-deciding final Test, Australia made merry as they suppressed the Proteas to 141 for seven at Tea on Day One.

Australia were forced to overhaul their bowling attack after Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus, who bowled majority of the overs in Adelaide after James Pattinson s withdrawal due to injury, were rested.

This brought in the two Mitchells Starc and Johnson into the line-up. Shane Watson, returning from a calf injury, was also brought in while fellow all-rounder and fast-medium bowler John Hastings was given a debut at the WACA.

Starc claimed a brace in the first session after he struck the woodwork of opener Alviro Petersen (30) and the talismanic Jacques Kallis (2), the latter in the last over before lunch.

Watson, who made a comeback into the Test squad following a calf injury, bowled a tidy spell of three overs in the first session and picked up the wicket of South Africa skipper Graeme Smith for 16.

Hastings and Johnson, playing his first Test since November 2011, then joined the party in the second session. Hastings got his first Test wicket after finding the edge of the AB De Villiers (4), while Johnson sent back South African debutant Dean Elgar for a duck.

The dangerous Hashim Amla (11) was the first wicket to fall after lunch run out from a direct hit from David Warner pegging South Africa to 67 for four.

De Villiers and Elgar soon followed Amla back to the pavilion, before du Plessis and Peterson (31) struck a 57-run partnership to launch a mini-fightback.

However, spinner Nathan Lyon got rid of Peterson against the run of play with a quarter of an hour to go before the tea break to dent South Africa s hopes of any revival.

Philander then walked in at 132 for seven and flashed around a bit, scoring 30 off 54 balls and sharing a critical 64-run eighth-wicket partnership with du Plessis to take South Africa four short of 200. Trying to get past the landmark with a big one, Philander skied Nathan Lyon miles up in the air before Michael Hussey took a brilliant catch.

The visitors made three changes, bringing in Dean Elgar, Peterson and Philander for Imran Tahir, Jacques Rudolph and Rory Kleinveldt.

Brief Score: South Africa 225 (Faf du Plessis 78, Robin Peterson 31; Nathan Lyon 3 for 41, Mitchell Starc 2 for 55, Mitchell Johnson 2 for 54) lead Australia 33 for 2 (David Warner 12*; Dale Steyn 1 for 19, Vernon Philander 1 for 8) by 192 runs

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