Australia rebounded with a seven-wicket victory over South Africa in the day-night third Test in Adelaide on Sunday (November 27) to end a nightmarish run of five Test defeats.
The Australians, rejuvenated by five team changes in response to two defeats to South Africa, chased down 127 runs for victory after dismissing the visitors for 250 on the fourth day of the pink-ball Test. South Africa, however, took the series 2-1.
Peter Handscomb (1 not out), the debutant, hit the winning run with fellow newcomer Matthew Renshaw on 34 as Australia finished on 127 for 3. Handscomb came to the wicket after Steve Smith, the captain, was caught behind for 40 off Kyle Abbott with two runs to win.
“It’s much better to be on this side of the fence,” said Smith. “A little bitter-sweet. It was a disappointing series, we were outplayed in the first two Tests. But I’m really proud how the team came back in this game. New players came in, they stood up, and we showed some fight and character.”
The home side also lost the wickets of David Warner and Usman Khawaja, the first-innings centurion, along the way. Warner blazed 47 off 51 balls before he was run out in a mix-up and Khawaja, who batted for almost eight hours in the first innings, lasted just two balls before he was leg before to a Tabraiz Shamsi wrong’un.
Australia’s victory saw off the threat of South Africa walking away with an unprecedented series whitewash in Australia and was just the tonic for the growing criticism over the team’s abject form of late. It was also their first Test victory since beating New Zealand by seven wickets in Christchurch in February.
Once the dangerous Quinton de Kock was removed for 5 early on the fourth day, South Africa, who conceded a 124-run first innings lead, were always under pressure to build a defendable target.
The South Africans thought they had taken the wicket of Renshaw in the second over when they appealed for a catch at slip by Hashim Amla off Vernon Philander. But Richard Kettleborough, the umpire, was unmoved and a review showed the ball had no contact with Renshaw’s bat. It was the ninth review in this series involving Kettleborough, who has a 100 percent success rate.
South Africa held outside hopes of repeating their predecessors’ famous five-run victory in Sydney 22 years ago when they bowled out Australia for 111.
“Very happy. Our mission was successful,” said Faf du Plessis, the South Africa captain. “The last four days were not planned, but we came here to win the series and fortunately for us it was in Hobart (second Test). It was an incredible series to beat Australia 2-1 and to do it three times in a row is a huge effort.”