Australia’s loss in the opening Test of the summer has been made official, as South Africa coasted to a 177-run win at the WACA.
Day five was a mere formality, with the tourists requiring only six wickets, while Australia needed to smash the record for the highest run chase in Test history by scoring 539 runs.
They only managed 361 as South Africa cleaned up the remaining Australian batsmen to nab a third-straight win in Perth.
There was enough time for 21-year-old seamer Kagiso Rabada to complete the fourth five-wicket haul of his young Test career as he continued to stand up in the absence of the injured Dale Steyn.
“Our first innings batting [was most disappointing],” captain Steve Smith told Grandstand after play.
“We got ourselves in a pretty good position bowling South Africa out on the first day for 240, but after being 0-150 we weren’t able to capitalise.
“We lost wickets in clumps and had another collapse of 9-100, I think it was, and we weren’t able to come back from there.”
The beginning of the end was signalled early on the final day when, in the eighth over, Mitchell Marsh was caught on the front toe by an in-swinging Rabada delivery.
The ball appeared to be heading down leg side for all money and Aleem Dar kept his finger down, but the South Africans reviewed and, as so often happens with out-of-form batsmen, the luck went against Marsh.
Ball-tracking technology had it hitting leg stump by just enough to overturn the on-field decision and the under-pressure all-rounder had to trudge back to the pavilion with another Test batting failure to his name.
While the result of the game was gone, it looked like the Aussies would have some reason to smile with Usman Khawaja edging towards a century.
He survived a scare when Temba Bavuma came on to bowl and had him plumb LBW with his first delivery, but the diminutive part-timer had overstepped the mark by a slim margin.
On 84, Khawaja looked certain for a fifth Test ton as he picked boundaries off his pads after his reprieve, before the curse of the part-timer’s first ball struck again.
This time it was the gentle off spin of JP Duminy — Khawaja played for a sharply turning delivery that would have been the first of the game and was summarily trapped LBW.
He reviewed, but there was no let-off and he had to depart on 97 — the same brutally close three-run margin by which David Warner missed a century in the first innings.
Peter Nevill showed some fight and put together the sort of innings that has come to characterise his career, driving his way to 60 not out, but it was only delaying the inevitable as the tail fell around him.
Online Source: ABC.net.au.