Lucky Cook fires S.Africa fightback

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Adelaide (Australia) (AFP)

Opener Steve Cook profited from an early reprieve to lead a South Africa fightback after the loss of three wickets on the opening day of the day-night third Test against Australia on Thursday.

Cook had a major let-off on four, when he was struck on the back pad by Starc and given out leg before wicket in the day's third over at Adelaide Oval.

But he was called back to the crease when replays picked up a front-foot no-ball bowled by Starc.

Cook went on to end the first session unbeaten on 40 with skipper Faf du Plessis not out 26. The tourists were 89 for three after winning the toss.

Du Plessis was booed by the crowd as he walked out to bat, following a ball-tampering incident for which he was found guilty and fined, but cleared to play in the match.

The pair steadied the Proteas innings with an unbroken 45-run stand for the fourth wicket.

Starc recovered from his blunder when he enticed a thick edge from Dean Elgar to Usman Khawaja at third slip for five.

He received ironic cheers from the home crowd when replays confirmed it was a legal delivery.

English-born debutant Matt Renshaw then took his first Test catch to dismiss Hashim Amla for five off Josh Hazlewood.

The 20-year-old opener snapped up an ankle-high catch at first slip to claim the big scalp of Amla and leave the tourists at 36 for two in the 13th over.

Hazlewood struck again in the over after drinks, coaxing an inside edge off JP Duminy to give recalled wicketkeeper Matthew Wade a catch for five as the tourists slumped to 44 for three.

Australia are fighting off the threat of their sixth straight Test defeat, after losing 3-0 in Sri Lanka in July and August. They are also on the brink of their first-ever home Test series whitewash.