Scandal-tainted Oz in no mood to surrender meekly in final Test
JOHANNESBURG: As the South African crowd taunted them over the ball-tampering scandal, Australia's players found their fight in the final test on Friday.
South Africa went to stumps on the first day of the series decider on 313-6 after a dominant 152 from opener Aiden Markram, and 69 from AB de Villiers.
But two late strikes by fast bowler Chadd Sayers on his test debut, and three earlier wickets from Pat Cummins, gave the Australians precious hope after a week of despair.
"Where's your captain?" the Wanderers crowd chanted. "Where's your Warner?"
Captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner were banned long-term and sent home in disgrace, as was batsman Cameron Bancroft, for their roles in tampering with the ball with sandpaper in the third test.
The remainder of the Australia team began the first day in Johannesburg standing in a tight circle on the field before play to congratulate Sayers and three other players brought into the lineup.
Sayers was included after Australia's No. 1 fast bowler, Mitchell Starc, was ruled out with a stress fracture to his right lower leg, the latest blow to a team reeling from the cheating scandal.
Three others, batsmen Peter Handscomb, Matthew Renshaw and Joe Burns, were in the team for Smith, Warner and Bancroft. Renshaw and Burns were rushed over from Australia in the last few days.
Leading 2-1 after a 322-run win in Cape Town and seeking to seal the series, South Africa put together four strong partnerships for its first five wickets: 53 between Markram and Dean Elgar (19), 89 between Markram and Hashim Amla (27), 105 between Markram and de Villiers, and 52 between de Villiers and Temba Bavuma.
Australia was feeling the pressure when Markram and de Villiers took South Africa to 247-2, setting the crowd off with the tampering taunts.
But Cummins found the energy after a draining week to remove Markram and South Africa captain Faf du Plessis in the space of two balls, du Plessis for a first-ball duck.
Sayers took two wickets in three balls late in the day, sending back de Villiers and Kagiso Rabada.
Two of Australia's new players were also involved in earlier dismissals.
Sayers took the catch to see off Elgar. Handscomb held on to another catch in the slips to get rid of Amla.