South Africa's captain Graeme Smith avoids a bouncer while
batting against Australia during the first cricket test
match at the Gabba in Brisbane. Photo by Reuters.
Hashim Amla was approaching his third century in his last
four tests as South Africa defused Australia's pace attack and
reached a dominant 255 for two at the end of the opening day of
the first test at the Gabba.
Amla, who was 90 not out when the stumps were drawn early
because of bad light, put on 136 in an unbeaten third wicket
stand with Jacques Kallis (84 not out) after openers Graeme
Smith (10) and Alviro Petersen (64) were dismissed either
side of the lunch break.
Australian seamer Peter Siddle was left rueing missed chances
after his no ball gave Kallis a life on 43 and he dropped a
catch off his own bowling that would have sent Amla back to
the dressing room with 74 runs.
The home side had hoped the bowling attack which destroyed
India's vaunted batsmen last year would do the same with the
South Africans but the fireworks from James Pattinson, Ben
Hilfenhaus and Siddle failed to materialise.
"We wanted to really put our peg in the ground and I think we
did that really well," said Petersen.
"Two wickets down, we're in a comfortable position but
tomorrow's going to be really important, to back that up and
make sure today's work doesn't go to waste."
Amla, the world's top-ranked batsman, signalled his intent
early in the day with a soaring six off spinner Nathan Lyon
and coolly paced his innings, easing up when the quicks got
into their stride and opening up against anything loose.
The 29-year-old put on 90 for the second wicket with Petersen
before the opener threw away his wicket by wafting a shot for
Mike Hussey to catch at mid-on off Lyon's bowling halfway
through the second session.
Picking up his 5000th test run along the way, Amla reached
his 24th test half century before tea and, Siddle's dropped
catch apart, it looked like only the gathering clouds would
stop him reaching his 17th test century.
The evergreen Kallis had designs on the milestone himself
after racing to his 56th test half century in just 63 balls,
reaching the mark with a sublime cover drive.
The all rounder rode his luck, though, when he ballooned a
catch to Lyon only for the umpire to call him back to the
crease after TV replays showed Siddle had failed to keep his
front foot behind the line.
Australia had earlier benefited from the TV appeal system to
dismiss Smith lbw when a Pattinson delivery caught the South
African skipper's trailing leg but umpire Billy Bowden
declined to raise his characteristic crooked finger.
South Africa won the toss and chose to bat, which looked like
a good decision after the wicket and overcast conditions
failed to produce the sort of swing and movement off the
pitch the seamers had hoped for.
"Definitely a long day," said Pattinson. "It wasn't the Gabba
wicket that we were used to. It was a bit slow and there was
no sideways movement.
"You can make excuses but we probably lacked a bit of
penetration and a bit of consistency and our maiden count was
the big thing.
"When it's not playing as much as you would like, you
probably want to dry up the runs a bit as we probably didn't
Whether South Africa's other big decision of the morning - to
drop spinner Imran Tahir and give a debut to Rory Kleinveldt
as part of a four-pronged pace attack - proves a good one was
put into doubt when JP Duminy was injured after close of
Duminy, who was expected to support the pacemen with his off
spin, hurt his left ankle in a fall while training on the
pitch and had to be helped off before being taken to hospital
for a scan.
South Africa's number one test ranking is on the line in the
series, which continues with matches in Adelaide and Perth
Australia - Michael Clarke (captain), David Warner, Ed Cowan,
Rob Quiney, Ricky Ponting, Mike Hussey, Matthew Wade, Peter
Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus, James Pattinson, Nathan Lyon.
South Africa - Graeme Smith (captain), Alviro Petersen,
Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, Jacques Rudolph,
JP Duminy, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Rory