South Africa's Temba Bavuma
South Africa's Temba Bavuma sweeps a delivery as Australia's wicketkeeper Alex Carey (R) looks on on the fourth day of the second Test match at the MCG in Melbourne on December 29, 2022. Image Credit: AFP

A rebuilding South Africa are learning international cricket is a "brutal sport" but the players must not shy away from the challenge, batsman Temba Bavuma said in the wake of their second Test thrashing in Melbourne.

South Africa suffered their heaviest defeat in Australia on Thursday, losing the Boxing Day Test by an innings and 182 runs to surrender the series 2-0 with a match to spare.

Their batsmen have failed to reach 200 in three of the four innings in Australia, crumbling repeatedly against the hosts' formidable pace attack.

Bavuma said Dean Elgar's team needed to be ready for Australia to come hard again in the final Test in Sydney.

"The Australian team, they've asked questions, they're probably going to ask the same questions again with the bat and the ball," Bavuma told reporters.

"And as a group ... we're going to have to find solutions to those questions. International cricket's a brutal, brutal sport and a lot of us are learning that.

"It's not a matter of shying away from what is in front of us. We're going to have to face it head on and find a way - not just for now but for going forward." Bavuma was the only South Africa batsman to score a half-century in the second innings in Melbourne but was involved in run outs with two batting partners, Khaya Zondo and Keshav Maharaj, as the Proteas were bowled out for 204 on day four.

While admitting he was the "common denominator" in the run-outs, the diminutive number four was not taking the blame.

"I think it probably just shows the lack of clarity, indecision between the guys batting out there," he said.

South Africa's running between wickets came under further scrutiny in Melbourne when Australia bowler Mitchell Starc upbraided number three Theunis de Bruyn for straying outside the crease at the non-striker's end.

Paceman Starc and his captain Pat Cummins said they would consider running out batters if they kept leaving the crease early, a dismissal known informally as 'Mankad'.

Bavuma said South Africa's batters needed to be "cleaner" about staying in their crease.

"The guys know now (Mankad) is not frowned upon ... It's within the rules.

"So I guess the fault I would say is more on us as the batters."