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South Africa win the toss and bat first in Perth

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PERTH (Reuters) - South Africa captain Faf du Plessis won the toss and elected to bat in the opening test of the three-match series against Australia at the WACA on Thursday.

South Africa decided against going with a four-prong pace attack and handed a test debut to left-arm orthodox spinner Keshav Maharaj to play along with quicks Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada.

"It looks good, I'm a bit surprised it looks a bit dry," said Du Plessis.

"We've gone with a spinner and obviously batting first, hopefully on the last day there'll be some spin involved.

"We've got three seamers, that's been our attack for the last few years."

Du Plessis said experienced seamer Morne Morkel had missed out to allow him a bit more time to recover from the back injury that has hampered him this year.

"Morne is coming off injury so he's probably 90, 95 percent but bowling long spells is still a bit of a concern and I think spin will be good on this surface," he added.

Australia captain Steve Smith announced his team on Wednesday with Peter Siddle getting the nod to complete the pace unit along with Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc.

Smith, who has led the side to a 3-0 test defeat in Sri Lanka and a 5-0 ODI reverse in South Africa this year, said he would have batted first had he won the toss.

"It looks like a nice wicket so I hope there's a little bit in it at the start," he said.

"We're back here in Australia where we play our best cricket, we've had some success here at this ground and long may that continue."

South Africa have won on their last two test visits to the WACA in 2008 and 2012, both times going on to clinch the series as well.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, Editing by Ian Ransom)


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