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Johnson fires again for Australia

Mitchell Johnson proved his Ashes renaissance was not a one-off by putting Australia in a strong position as the opening Test against South Africa moved forward at pace.

Johnson proved as menacing against the Proteas as he did during his side’s 5-0 win over England this winter.

He claimed 4-51 as South Africa, the world’s number-one side who entered the contest as favourites, were reduced to 140 for six in reply to the tourists’ 397 at Centurion.

Earlier, Steven Smith reached his fourth Test century, and third in four Tests, while Shaun Marsh finally fell for 148.

Graeme Smith is ousted by a vicious throat ball as Mitchell Johnson claimed the first of four wickets in the opening TestRyan McLaren had Smith caught behind, while Brad Haddin’s Ashes form eluded him as he followed for a duck, lbw to Robin Peterson.Michael Clarke’s men added exactly 100 runs to their overnight tally, subsiding shortly after lunch as the hosts took their sixth wicket of the day.

South Africa continued pressing and finally dismissed Marsh, who passed his previous Test-best of 141 by seven runs before Vernon Philander had him held at slip.

Johnson and Ryan Harris ensured the Australia tail did not buckle, adding 43 runs in 11 overs with some entertaining strokeplay to frustrate the Proteas.

South Africa finally claimed the last two wickets, yet their joy was shortlived.

Indeed, Johnson quickly showed his teeth, having Graeme Smith and Francois du Plessis held in the cordon with vicious short balls either side of luring Alviro Petersen into a feather behind.

Hashim Amla’s poor recent run then continued as he was out plumb lbw on review to Peter Siddle.

JP Duminy rebuilt alongside AB de Villiers, only to chip Nathan Lyon straight to mid-off before McLaren became Johnson’s fourth victim when inside-edging on to off stump.

That scalp, in particular, meant there was much work ahead for de Villiers – who closed on 52 not out.

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