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SAfrica in complete control of WACA Test

AAP logoAAP 5/11/2016 Rob Forsaith

Australia's battling batsmen already face a record run-chase but skipper Steve Smith insists they can win the first Test at the WACA, where South Africa's lead ballooned to 388 runs at stumps on day three.

A 250-run stand between centurions Dean Elgar and JP Duminy - and two dropped catches from the hosts - powered the Proteas to 6-390 on Saturday.

It will be an incredibly imposing target, no matter what the final figure is.

Australia have never chased down so many runs at home to win a Test and the batting order is reeling from a first-innings collapse of 10-86.

"This wicket isn't your traditional sort of WACA wicket - it's been pretty slow. The ball has gone soft very quickly ... there's no reason we can't chase down a total on that," Smith said.

"(Dale Steyn being injured) is certainly going to help us.

"If we can keep them out there long enough and tire their two fast bowlers ... and be a little bit more positive against their spin ... anything is going to be chasable.

"It's a lightning outfield and we saw today once you get yourself in it's a great place to bat."

The tourists resumed at 2-104 with the three-Test series opener in the balance.

Australia bowled well in patches, especially Josh Hazlewood, but Elgar and Duminy showed great composure in knocks of 127 and 141, respectively.

South Africa's second-highest Test partnership against Australia made a mockery of the flurry of wickets on Friday, when Smith was one of four Australian batsmen to be dismissed for ducks.

"We weren't good enough ... the batters didn't do the job," Smith said.

"We need some big partnerships."

The tourists' game-changing partnership should have ended at 185 runs, when Elgar was on 81 and offered his only chance in one of Nathan Lyon's 12 overs for the day.

Mitchell Starc, fielding at mid-off, was slow to react to the skied edge and never looked like completing the catch.

Even at that point it had been a long day in the field for the hosts, especially pacemen Starc and Peter Siddle who are both underdone.

As well as those existing concerns, 37-year-old Adam Voges clutched at his hamstring in Saturday's second session after chasing down the ball to save a boundary.

Voges remained on the field but was responsible for the other reprieve handed out by Australia, which came late in the day when Quinton de Kock was on one.

"We did catch well the other day. We took a couple of good catches today," Smith said of his side's fielding, which has been an ongoing issue during the past two years.

"We're working hard. We're doing our best."

De Kock, who top-scored for the visitors in their first innings with 84, was 16 not out at stumps alongside Vernon Philander.

Duminy's fluent knock was chanceless until the final delivery before tea on Saturday, when Smith successfully reviewed a caught-behind shout from Siddle.

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