Proteas pummel toothless Australia
Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis moved within sight of centuries as South Africa dominated the first day of the opening Test with Australia in Brisbane.
After winning the toss on a relatively slow pitch and seeing skipper Graeme Smith fall cheaply, the Proteas, who are bidding to retain their position at the summit of the International Cricket Council Test rankings, had few problems in progressing to 255 for two.
Bad light forced a premature close, with Amla, so often the scourge of England earlier this year, unbeaten on 90 and the evergreen Kallis alongside on 84.
Although largely untroubled, both batsmen survived nervy moments when facing Peter Siddle. Kallis had 43 to his name when he was caught off a no-ball, while Amla offered the seamer a return catch on 74.
Australia’s four-man attack lacked penetration for much of the day and, in the absence of injured all-rounder Shane Watson, Test debutant Rob Quiney and Mike Hussey combined to send down 10 overs of innocuous medium-pace.
Indeed, the biggest setback for South Africa came in their warm-down after stumps, when JP Duminy ruptured his left Achilles tendon and was ruled out of the tour. The Proteas announced Francois du Plessis will field in Duminy’s place, but they will have to make do with 10 batsmen in this game.
James Pattinson and Ben Hilfenhaus struggled to find the right areas in their opening spells with the new ball, but the former soon struck following a change of ends.
Smith was hit on the back pad by a delivery that shaped in and Australia successfully reviewed umpire Billy Bowden’s original not-out verdict.
The hosts had little else to cheer thereafter, as Alviro Petersen prospered alongside the studious Amla, who lofted Nathan Lyon down the ground for six in a rare display of aggression.
Petersen exhibited greater attacking intent after passing 50, but this led to his downfall when he picked out Hussey at mid-on off Lyon to fall for 64, having failed to get to the pitch of the ball.
Kallis was quickly into his stride, however, and it was not long before South Africa were back in control.
Siddle’s two errors appeared increasingly costly as the day neared its conclusion, with both Amla and Kallis seemingly set to capitalise on their let-offs.
The number three was typically cultured as he moved beyond 5,000 Test runs, while Kallis - a similarly focussed presence at the crease - brought up his half-century from just 63 deliveries with a series of powerful strokes before easing up in the closing overs.
South Africa went into the match without leg-spinner Imran Tahir, preferring to hand a debut to Rory Kleinveldt, who formed part of an all-seam bowling unit.