Australia was able to restore some pride by defeating South Africa by seven wickets at Adelaide Oval.
South African captain Faf Du Plessis scored a solid 118 on day one and chose to declare when his team were on 9/259. Dave Warner was struggling with a shoulder injury, so Usman Khawaja and Matt Renshaw had to open the batting in the late stages of the night. Khawaja’s score of 145 provided breathing space for the Australians and helped secure the victory for the Australians. He batted all day and night on day two and was dismissed early on day three.
The new faces for Australia stepped up, in particular, Peter Handscomb. He made a half-century as Australia went on to score 383 in the first innings. In the second innings, the opener for South Africa Stephen Cook made 104 but the South Africans struggled to combat the bowling attack of the Australians. Nathan Lyon picked up three while Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood picked up six between them. Jackson Bird picked up some crucial wickets and was able to get an LBW on the dangerous Quinton De Kock. Australia bowled the South Africans out for 250 which gave the Australians the easy task of chasing 127 runs to win.
It was the two-year anniversary of the death of Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes. All of the players wore black armbands in a show of respect. Dave Warner returned from his niggling injury and was able to reduce the run chase scoring 47 but was run out after some miscommunication with Renshaw. Khawaja went out for a duck so skipper Steve Smith arrived and played some breathtaking shots with Renshaw still hanging tough. Renshaw scored an unbeaten 34 but off 137 balls. The South African bowlers targeted Renshaw and restricted him from making the runs he wanted. Smith was dismissed by Kyle Abbott when there were only two runs left to get so it was up to Handscomb. He scored the winning run and secured the victory for Australia, ending the five-test losing streak.
South Africa won the series 2-1 but it looks like Australia has figured out who belongs in their team. Next week, the Aussies will play a One-Day International against New Zealand at the SCG while South Africa will play Sri Lanka on December 26. – Jesse Mullens
Photo of Renshaw and Handscomb from the Australian Cricket Team Facebook page.