Usman Khawaja is all smiles after scoring a ton at the Adelaide Oval.
Usman Khawaja is all smiles after scoring a ton at the Adelaide Oval. DAVID MARIUZ

Khawaja puts Australia on top in third Test

USMAN Khawaja notched his fifth Test century as the classy left-hander steered Australia to a first-innings lead in the third Test against South Africa at the Adelaide Oval.

The 29-year-old will resume tomorrow on 138 not out and the hosts well positioned at 6-307 in reply to the Proteas' 9dec 259.

Khawaja batted the entire day after surviving a difficult period late on day one under lights when opening the batting in place of David Warner.

After being dumped for the third Test in Sri Lanka in August, the Queensland skipper has responded in the best possible way, becoming Australia's leading runscorer in this home series.

Australian great Shane Warne said Khawaja was "maturing before our eyes”.

"He's going to be a better player after this series ...I think you can already see it," the former leggie said. "In Tasmania (when he scored 97) and now the way he's constructing his innings."

Khawaja continued his outstanding form in Adelaide having previously registered first-class scores of 214, 24, 101, 19 and 26 as well as a match-winning ton in last year's Big Bash League semi-final win for the Sydney Thunder.

Australia's Usman Khawaja celebrates making 100 runs.
Australia's Usman Khawaja celebrates making 100 runs. Rick Rycroft

Khawaja shared a 137-run stand with Steve Smith after Kyle Abbott had taken two early wickets - that of debutant Matt Renshaw (10) in controversial circumstances, and Warner (11).

The partnership ended in disaster with the skipper run out for 59, stranded in the middle of the pitch after the pair took on Vernon Philander at point in the hope of completing a quick single.

Aiming to avoid another batting collapse that has been a regular part of Australia's innings, Khawaja then combined with Peter Handscomb in his first Test, adding 99 runs for fourth wicket. The young Victorian scored 54 to impress.

The third debutant, Nic Maddinson, wasn't so productive, out for a duck, bowled by paceman Kagiso Rabada.

Khawaja then had to steer the ship again as the Aussies lost 3-10 - reinstalled keeper Matthew Wade edging Philander behind for four - with Mitch Starc holding up an end late in the day (16 from 50 balls).

Renshaw was out early in the day after edging to Dean Elgar at third slip.

The 20-year-old from Brisbane had stood his ground, however, while the two standing umpires, Richard Kettelborough and Nigel Llong, referred the shout to the third umpire Aleem Dar, who determined the ball had not brushed the grass as it bobbled in Elgar's hands.

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