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Proteas complete stunning fightback

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Graeme Smith

Graeme Smith steers South Africa to an eight-wicket victory in Cape Town. The Proteas skipper finished unbeaten on 101 and shared 195 for the second wicket with Hashim Amla, who contributed a fine 112

Hashim Amla and Graeme Smith each made centuries as South Africa coasted to a famous eight-wicket win over Australia in the first Test at Newlands, Cape Town.

After a sensational second day in which 23 wickets fell - Australia were bundled out for just 47 in the midst of the carnage - batting appeared rather more straightforward today. and the hosts, who resumed on 81 for one, raced to their target of 236 in 50.2 overs.

Skipper Smith ended the match unbeaten on 101, while Amla contributed 112 to a second-wicket partnership of 195 before falling with the finishing line in sight.

Although Amla was dropped for a second time in the third over of play this morning, there were few further moments of concern for South Africa, who had themselves been dismissed for 96 yesterday to concede a first-innings lead of 188.

Australia now face the challenge of bouncing back in next week’s second and final Test in Johannesburg, with their hopes of securing a series victory already over following this extraordinary encounter.

Amla had been fortunate to survive the final ball of day two when he was dropped by Mike Hussey in the gully and the elegant right-hander enjoyed another let-off today when he edged Ryan Harris to first slip, only for Shane Watson to spill the chance.

From then on, both Amla and Smith were virtually untroubled. The former, favouring the off side, drove superbly throughout his innings, while an equally positive Smith grew in confidence as they day progressed and enjoyed particular success against Shane Watson in an over yielding 13.

Amla brought up his 13th Test century - and first against Australia - with a powerful cut to the point boundary off Mitchell Johnson, his fourth four in as many deliveries.

He departed in Johnson’s next over, caught at gully by Michael Clarke after driving loosely at a wide delivery, but by that stage South Africa needed just 14 more to win.

There was still time for Smith to reach three figures, for the 23rd time in Tests, with a push into the off side off Johnson and the captain then rounded off a superb fightback by clipping Peter Siddle to the midwicket boundary in the next over.