PERTH: South Africa made a poor start in the first Test in Perth on Thursday and were struggling at 78 for 4 at lunch as Australia’s pace bowlers took the early advantage.
After winning the toss and electing to bat, the visitors lost quick wickets to the Australian attack on a bouncy WACA pitch with captain Faf du Plessis not out 37 at the break and Temba Bavuma unbeaten on 17 as the fifth-wicket pair added 46 to steady the ship.
At one stage the visitors were 32 for 4 as the home side looked to atone for their 5-0 defeat in their recent one-day series in South Africa.
Looking to improve on their recent away record, the South Africans made the worst possible start when they lost opener Stephen Cook after just four balls for a duck.
Cook fell to paceman Mitchell Starc who was making a comeback from a leg injury sustained in a training accident.
Starc squared up Cook and found the outside edge, with Mitchell Marsh leaping high to his left in the gully to snare a superb diving catch.
The South Africans were soon in more trouble, with Hashim Amla quickly falling also without scoring.
Amla pushed at a Josh Hazlewood delivery and provided a simple catch for Australian skipper Steve Smith at second slip.
A tough chance from Dean Elgar was grassed when he was 10, but he made just two more before being caught behind by Peter Nevill from the bowling of Hazlewood (2-26) with the score on 20.
JP Duminy never looked comfortable and also benefited from a life when he was on eight, but like Elgar could not capitalise and was caught behind for 11 off Peter Siddle.
Duminy called for a review and it took some time before umpire Nigel Llong’s decision was upheld by third umpire Richard Kettleborough.
South Africa left out paceman Morne Morkel, promoting spinner Keshav Maharaj to make his Test debut.