Stephen Cook was holding the South African second innings together in his sixth test with an unbeaten 81 from 199 balls, only able to watch as Temba Bavuma (21) and night-watchman Kyle Abbott (0) succumbed late to Lyon’s offspin.
“For me, the difference in this match from an Australian perspective was that they just had someone that stuck in and scored big runs”, du Plessis said, referring to Usman Khawaja’s first-innings 145 – a knock which lasted nearly seven and a half hours.
The fact that it will be here is just as significant: for all the magnificence of their nearly unthinkable feat of beating Australia away three times in a row (twice under Graeme Smith, now Faf du Plessis), the Proteas conspicuously still haven’t ticked the box for home triumph over the Aussies in seven modern-era series attempts stretching back to 1993/94.
He secured his spot with a grinding 145 that spanned the first three days of the third test, the only century for Australia in the series.
There had been a little wobble earlier in the run chase when vice-captain David Warner was run out for a typically rapid 47 before Usman Khawaja fell two balls later for a duck following on from his fantastic first-innings century.
The Proteas were bowled out for 250 before Australia chased 127 on the fourth evening of the day-night Test.
Josh Hazlewood then eked out an edge off Kagiso Rabada’s glove that was pouched safely by a diving Matthew Wade behind the stumps before Starc came back to wrap up proceedings to pick up his fourth wicket in the innings and sixth for the match.
Domingo confirmed that the totemic de Villiers would return as skipper for the home series against Sri Lanka if he has recovered from his elbow injury but paid tribute to the contribution of his temporary replacement. Some new players came in, they stood up and we showed some fight and character and I guess that’s what I want us to.
Despite displaying a resilience and determination previously missing from Australia’s batsmen in the lost South Africa series, the 20-year-old received some sarcastic cheers from the crowd over his snail-paced scoring, including a stretch of 32 deliveries without a run.
In Handscomb’s stunning catch that accounted for South Africa’s best batter of the first innings. For the first time in a while, the team played with fervour and a genuine zeal; a departure from the manufactured bravado which has masked the team’s burgeoning insecurity recently.
Du Plessis praised his bowlers, led by player-of-the-series Vernon Philander, for how they rattled the Australians in Steyn’s absence.
Australia’s Mitchell Starc, left, celebrates taking the wicket of South Africa’s Faf du Plessis on the third day of play during their test match in Perth, Australia, Saturday, Nov. 5.
Du Plessis had a tumultuous last week, being found guilty by the International Cricket Council of ball tampering, after he was seen putting his fingers in his mouth while he was sucking a mint, then shining the ball in Hobart.
Du Plessis said the experience had banished any doubts among his players.
Opener Matt Renshaw, one of three new caps brought into the Australia side after heavy defeats in the first two Tests, scored 34 not out and brought the host level after his captain Steve Smith was dismissed for 40 with only two runs required.
“He’s got a really good temperament, he’s got a really good head on him”, Khawaja said.
The behaviour of the new, improved pink ball was far closer to that of its venerable red cousin in this match than last November, when it swung around corners as the sun set and helped the inaugural day/night test hurtle to a finish inside three days. “What you saw today and during this Test mach was one bit of Matt Renshaw’s game”, Khawaja said.
“I’m really proud of the way the team came back in this game”.
Du Plessis said Sunday: “Obviously there were a lot of questions asked”.