Australia put S.Africa on back foot in final Test
PERTH, Australia (AFP) –
South Africa’s top order struggled against some probing Australian bowling to be 63 for three at lunch on the opening day of the third and final Test at the WACA Ground.
The home side’s new pace attack took the honours during the opening session of a match that will decide the top-ranked nation in Test cricket, claiming the vital wickets of Graeme Smith, Alviro Petersen and Jacques Kallis.
Hashim Amla was 11 not out at lunch, with AB de Villiers yet to score.
Australia were forced to completely revamp their attack with their three pacemen from the second Test in Adelaide — Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus and James Pattinson — all ruled out.
Left-armer Mitchell Johnson was recalled for his first Test in 12 months, Mitchell Starc was promoted after being 12th man for the first two matches in the series, and John Hastings was handed his Test debut.
Starc (2-27) almost claimed the wicket of Petersen when he was on four, the opener adjudged lbw by umpire Richard Kettleborough only for the decision to be overturned after a review.
Watson made a welcome return from a calf injury, having missed Australia’s last eight home Tests, finding a thick outside edge from Smith to remove the Proteas skipper.
Just before lunch, Starc struck two telling blows.
He removed Petersen when he bowled the right-hander for 30 with a full delivery, although he again had to wait until after a review, with Kettleborough wanting to check it wasn’t a front-foot no-ball.
He then found a way through the defence of Kallis (2), who overcame a hamstring injury to take his place in the match, with a similar delivery, collecting the veteran’s off stump.
Both teams made a number of selection changes for the match, with South Africa dropping Imran Tahir for fellow spinner Robin Peterson while batsman Jacques Rudolph was replaced by Dean Elgar.
Seamer Vernon Philander returned from a back injury for Rory Kleinveldt.