ADELAIDE (Reuters) - South African paceman Kyle Abbott removed Australian openers Matt Renshaw and David Warner but Usman Khawaja and his captain Steve Smith dug in to steer the hosts to 109 for two at tea on the second day of the day-night third test on Friday.
Khawaja reached his sixth half century with back-to-back fours a couple of overs before the break and will resume unbeaten on 58 along with Smith, who had made 23 not out, 150 runs behind the tourists.
Abbott, who only came into the side in the second test for the injured Dale Steyn, was the standout in a fine early display by the visiting pacemen, taking 2-7 with six maidens in his first 10-over spell.
Australia resumed on 14-0 in response to South Africa's 259-9 declared but debutant Renshaw added only two runs to his overnight tally before he was brilliantly caught for 10 at third slip by Dean Elgar.
The umpires checked to ensure Elgar had kept the ball off the grass with boos ringing around Adelaide Oval when it was confirmed by the third official that he had.
That brought to the crease Warner, who was unable to open as usual on Thursday after Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis's calculated declaration caught him off the field having treatment on his shoulder.
Warner had scored 11 runs off 25 balls when Abbott got the ball to seam away from him and the batsman was unable to resist the urge to play it, only to get an edge which Elgar once again snapped up in the cordon.
With debutants Peter Handscomb and Nic Maddinson next in the batting order behind Khawaja and Smith, the tourists could scent another of the Australian batting collapses that have helped them into a 2-0 lead in the three-match series.
Khawaja, who had opened in place of Warner, put on 72 with his skipper for the unbroken third wicket to usher the hosts more comfortably to tea.
Australia need a draw to avoid a first ever 3-0 series weep on home soil.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Sudipto Ganguly)