ADELAIDE, Australia: Faf du Plessis continued his impregnable run at the Adelaide Oval, entering to a chorus of booing before posting another unbeaten century and declaring when South Africa reached 259-9 on an opening day otherwise dominated by Australia in the day-night test.
Du Plessis, the player of the match on his test debut when he batted the entire last day here to salvage a series-swinging draw in 2012, was 118 not out on Thursday when he decided to end the innings.
That gave Australia’s new-look batting lineup 12 overs to face under the lights.
It has been a tumultuous week for du Plessis, who was fined but avoided a suspension after being found guilty by the International Cricket Council of ball tampering in South Africa’s series-clinching win in the second test last week.
He was loudly booed as he strode to the crease with the total at 44-3.
He shared an innings-restoring 51-run stand with opener Stephen Cook (40) and held the innings together as wickets fell around him.
Australia, which won the first ever day-night test match in a low-scoring outcome against New Zealand here last year, took three wickets in the first session, four in the second, and was one wicket from bowling South Africa out before du Plessis took the tactical decision to give his bowlers a chance to get wickets before stumps.
The highest total in the first day-night test was 224, and that match finished inside three days with a 66 by Australia’s Peter Nevill the highest score by either team.
Facing the pink ball in a test for the first time, and with Australia’s pacemen Josh Hazlewood (4-68) and Mitch Starc (2-78) dominating, du Plessis was in a different class.
Chasing a series sweep, he won the toss, decided to bat, and then was at the crease himself after just an hour.
On debut at Adelaide Oval in 2012, he scored 78 in his first innings, and batted for the entire last day and faced 378 balls for an unbeaten 110 to save the game.
This time, he salvaged the innings with a 164-ball knock that contained 17 boundaries.
Du Plessis admitted having a mint in his mouth when he licked his fingers to shine the ball in Hobart, but disputed the finding against him and said he’d been unfairly cast as a cheat for doing something that cricket teams all over the world have done for years.
Australia made five changes to the XI which surrendered the series with an innings-and-80-run loss in Hobart last week, bringing three uncapped batsmen into the top six.
Matt Renshaw, the 20-year-old English-born opener, was at the crease with less than an hour to play on his first day in test cricket.—AP