lunch Australia 266/2 (Khawaja 108*, Smith 59*, Nortje 2-39) Vs. South Africa
Twenty minutes before the break, Khawaja brought up his third straight Test century at the SCG and celebrated with a leap, an air punch and then a little jig after taking off his helmet.
It ended a disappointing Test summer for Khawaja, who missed out on Australia’s run glut and averaged only 27.42 from the last seven innings.
They have put Australia on track for a clean sweep of the series with a win to secure a place in the World Test Championship final in June.
Like Khawaja, Smith has a strong record on his home ground, having scored the last three Test hundreds in nine Tests while averaging above 70.
Smith has now returned to a pronounced back-foot trigger movement, having abandoned the shuffle in the crease earlier this season following a much-touted improvement in his technique.
He started slowly scoring just five off his first 29 balls and then clubbed the paceman Kagiso Rabada with an extraordinary boundary over midwicket that looked like a cross between a drive and a pull.
Smith started down the leg before lunch as he preferred the likes of spinners Keshav Maharaj and Simon Harmer to complete their half-centuries.
Play started 30 minutes earlier after only 47 overs were bowled on the first day due to bad light and rain.
More disappointment – continuing Sydney’s recent run of rain-affected Test matches – began when play was stopped after just three overs due to drizzle. But it cleared up quickly and the forecast looks promising for the rest of the day’s play, although there is a chance of rain on the third and fourth days.
South Africa started with pacer Anrich Nortje, who brought his side back into the contest on day one with the late wicket of Marnus Labuschagne.
Nortje started all around the wicket for left-handed Khawaja but failed to muster the same bite he memorably produced on the opening day, while Rabada was erratic again to continue his disappointing series.
Under-pressure South African captain Dean Elgar raised eyebrows again after opting for Maharaj over offspinner Harmer, who had threatened his comeback into the team but bowled only five overs on the first day.
Maharaj, who was expensive in his nine overs on the first day, got off to a poor start with a half-volley that was easily dispatched by Khawaja for a few runs, before a looping delivery deceived the batsman and was just short of cover. fell down.
In conditions more suited to him, Maharaj bowled his best of a fruitless series but failed to threaten consistently and was hit for sixes by Khawaja and Smith.
Harmer finally entered the attack after a drinks break, but was not able to cause as much trouble as he had 24 hours earlier.
A desperate Elgar didn’t hesitate to take the second new ball when it was available 10 minutes before lunch, but Khawaja and Smith defied Nortje’s charge of batting late throughout the session.
Tristan Lovelett is a journalist based in Perth