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Brave Bavuma digs Proteas out of Test hole

AAP logoAAP 3/11/2016 Justin Chadwick

It took the shortest man in the team to stand the tallest against Australia's pace attack as South Africa were saved from embarrassment by pint-sized batsman Temba Bavuma on Thursday in Perth.

The Proteas were reeling at 4-32 in the first Test against Australia when Bavuma entered the fray in the 13th over.

That became 5-81 when skipper Faf du Plessis edged Mitchell Starc to slip on a bouncy WACA wicket.

South Africa's hopes of maintaining their unbeaten Test record at the WACA appeared slim at that stage.

The 161cm Bavuma needed to produce something special to dig the Proteas out of their massive hole.

And he did just that with a fighting 51 off 86 balls that featured seven boundaries.

"I just tried to take things as slowly as possible," Bavuma said.

"Some instances in my innings, I do hit a couple of boundaries, and there'll be instances where I knuckle down and grind.

"So for me, it's just a matter of trying to adjust to what's happening at that point in time."

It wasn't all smooth sailing for Bavuma, who copped a painful hit to the hip from Hazlewood early in his innings.

A series of other short balls also came close to causing some major damage.

But rather than tremble with fear, Bavuma wore the barrage as a badge of honour, and proceeded to frustrate the Australian attack.

Bavuma's knock was brought to an end when Shaun Marsh took a spectacular one-handed catch at short leg.

By then, the scoreboard read 6-152, with Quinton de Kock (84) already well set at the crease.

South Africa were eventually bowled out for 242, before Australia raced to 0-105 at stumps courtesy of David Warner's quick-fire 73.

The Proteas still face an uphill battle to win the match. But if Bavuma's teammates can emulate his own fighting spirit, they'll stand a chance of tasting victory.

"It's only one day of cricket that we've played badly," Bavuma said.

"There's still a lot of confidence amongst the guys in the team.

"We take comfort in the fact that we have the skill and the experience to come back stronger. That's what we're going to be focusing on tomorrow."

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