Hobart, Australia (AP) — South Africa clinched the three-test series in Australia with a match to spare on Tuesday, leaving Steve Smith’s team facing the prospect of an unprecedented sweep on home soil after yet another woeful batting performance.
With the 177-run win in Perth and the innings and 80-run victory in Hobart, South Africa secured their third consecutive test series win in Australia — following victories in 2008-09 and 2012-13 — and handed Smith a fifth straight test defeat as Australian captain.
The Australians were ranked No. 1 until being swept 3-0 in Sri Lanka in July. South Africa entered the series without inspirational captain A.B. de Villiers and lost strike bowler Dale Steyn early in the opening match in Perth.
Now Australian selectors are scrambling to assemble a team that can bat for a day in time for the third test, a day-night match which starts Nov. 24 in Adelaide. It’s only the second day-night test ever played in Australia, 12 months after a low-scoring win over New Zealand in the first. It also presents the South African pacemen with an ideal chance to exploit the brittle batting lineup that has been exposed in this series with collapses of 10-86 in Perth, 85 all out on the opening day in Hobart, and 8-32 on Tuesday.
Australia have never been swept in a test series on home soil, and are in grave danger of ending that streak.
The Australians resumed on day four at 121 for two on Tuesday, still needing 121 to make South Africa bat again in the second test.
Usman Khawaja top-scored with 64 but was out swiping at a ball from Kyle Abbott and edging behind, triggering the staggering collapse. Australia slumped from 129-2 to all out for 166 before lunch.
Abbott returned 6-77 and Kagiso Rabada had 4-34 in conditions that were good but not unnaturally advantageous for swing or seam movement.
It was almost a repeat of day one, when South Africa sent Australia in to bat and had them 8-4 before Smith’s unbeaten 48 helped the home team narrowly avoid some unwanted records. The South Africans replied with 326, with Quinton de Kock scoring 104, to set up a 241-run lead.
It was all over in 19.2 overs on day four.
“We’ve got to find a way to be a bit more resilient and spend some time out in the middle. Whether it’s seaming, swinging or spinning we’re having some trouble,” Smith said. “Guys have to find ways to get themselves in … it was just about trying to fight and spend some time out in the middle and bat for the day