ADELAIDE: Usman Khawaja hit a fighting century to lead an Australian charge but skipper Steve Smith was run out in a dreadful mix-up on the second day of the third day-night Test against South Africa on Friday.
At dinner in Adelaide, the Australians were 209 for three in reply to the Proteas’ 259 for nine declared, with Khawaja unbeaten on 108 and debutant Peter Handscomb on 14. The home side trail by 50 runs.
It was Khawaja’s fifth Test century and an important one as Australia seek to prevent the Proteas from an unprecedented series clean sweep after heavy defeats in the opening two Tests.
Khawaja, the best-performed of the Australian batsmen in a troubled series, led the way with his wristy shot-making to put the home side within sight of an innings lead in the pink-ball Test.
The artistic left-hander has scored 276 runs for the series up to the final evening session.
But his ton was marred by a mix-up which left Smith stranded as he darted off for a quick single.
Smith, who was put down by Hashim Amla on 46, was sailing along when his run out for 59 came out of the blue in a bad breakdown in communication with Khawaja.
After Smith called for a quick single off Tabraiz Shamsi, Khawaja took several tentative steps before turning back and Smith was caught well out of his ground by Vernon Philander’s throw to wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock.
Smith put on 137 for the third wicket in his 158 minutes at the crease and his dismissal summoned debutant Handscomb to the wicket.
The Proteas struck twice with the wickets of Matt Renshaw and David Warner inside the first hour.
Renshaw, who looked so composed in his first Test innings the previous evening, fell to a superb sprawling catch by Dean Elgar in the slips for 10 in the fourth over of the day.
Abbott enticed an edge and Elgar dived across second slip to take the catch just above the ground and send the English-born youngster on his way.
Abbott, bowling at a nagging length, prised the key wicket of Warner for 11 in his eighth over, nipping one off the wicket and getting the Australian vice-captain to edge to Elgar for his second catch.
Warner, who was unable to open the innings because of the time he spent off the field having treatment when South Africa made a daring declaration late on the first day, came in at number three.