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Du Plessis to South Africa s rescue again
Du Plessis to South Africa's rescue again

South Africa have struck two early blows against Australia as they try to fight back during an enthralling opening day of the third Test at the WACA Ground.

Dismissed for 225, the Proteas have the Aussies 2-33 with opener Ed Cowan gone, caught in slips for a golden duck, and Shane Watson (10) joining him in the pavilion.

David Warner was 12 not out with nightwatchman Nathan Lyon on seven. Ricky Ponting was spared having to go into bat late in the final session in his final Test.

Adelaide hero Faf du Plessis has come to the Proteas' rescue again, with a fighting unbeaten 78 rescuing what had threatened to be a total collapse.

Australia had crashed through the South African middle order to take a grip on the match.

After winning the toss and batting, the Proteas had stumbled to 7-141.

Things would have been far worse for the visitors had it not been for a fighting 57 run seventh wicket partnership between du Plessis and Robin Peterson, who scored 31 before being well caught by Matthew Wade off spinner Nathan Lyon, followed by a 64 run liason between du Plessis and Vernon Philander who was brilliantly caught by Mike Hussey off Lyon for 30.

Three quick wickets in the second session had plunged the South Africans to 6-75.

Already in trouble at 3-63 at lunch, they needed to re-build their innings but instead literally ran themselves into trouble.

Hashim Amla, given a life by Cowan at short mid wicket to deny John Hastings his first test wicket, then couldn't make his gorund after repsonding to an AB de Villiers call for a quick single and was thrown out by Warner with a direct hit from cover.

Hastings then grabbed that first test wicket, with De Villiers nicking him to first slip and Michael Clarke for four.

Then recalled paceman Mitchell Johnson grabbed a scalp, geting Dean Elgar caught off the glove by Matthew Wade to leave South Africa reeling.

Earlier Proteas skipper Graeme Smith won the toss and batted and, with Alviro Petersen steered the visitors to a comfortable 0-38 before Smith nicked Watson to second slip and Clarke to depart for 16.

Mitchell Starc had grabbed the critical pre-lunch wickets of Petersen, bowled through a gaping defence for 30, then Jacques Kallis, bowled through an equally big hole for two.

The WACA pitch, which had had an interrupted preparation because of storms that lashed Perth ealier in the week, had produced its customary bounce but no venomous pace in the opening session and a half.

The Australian bowlers had reaped rewards for altering their lengths after a start littered by short balls, catching the South Africans on the crease repeatedly.

Johnson, recalled to the team for this test after a year's absence, finished with 2-54.