Australia were left to rue two lost reviews, a wicket off a no-ball and a dropped catch, as South Africa climbed to 255 for two on day one of the first Test in Brisbane on Friday.

Proteas skipper Graeme Smith had little hesitation in batting first after winning the toss, and proved the only failure after half-centuries from Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis took advantage of a rather placid pitch.

The hosts picked a specialist spinner in Nathan Lyon, while the tourists opted for an all-pace attack, yet the nature of the Gabba surface suggested a batsmen-dominated fixture.

Smith couldn't oblige, though, surviving an early lbw referral but unable to outlast the second after near falling over his front foot. Doing what fellow seamer Ben Hilfenhaus could not eight overs earlier, James Pattinson struck the left-hander plumb enough in front. Umpire Asad Rauf didn't agree, but the third match official did.

Petersen was fluid in his transition from limited-overs hitter to Test match batsman after a recent glut of domestic Twenty20 cricket in the Champions League recently. His 64 from 127 balls, including seven boundaries, was a steady affair - until a momentary rush of blood to the head saw him hole out to mid-on off spinner Nathan Lyon. Dancing down the track to meet the ball at its pitch, the right-hander was too late, yet followed through with the ill-fated stroke regardless.

His departure left South Africa 119 for two shortly after the lunch break. Comfortable but not yet on top of the contest, there was work for Amla and Kallis to do. The prolific duo were quick to act, yet have a piece of fortune each to thank for their respective 90 not out and 84 not out.

Kallis' attempt to work the ball to the leg-side in the first over after tea resulted in a looping catch to Lyon at mid-off. Australia's celebration was premature, though, with television replays soon revealing a no-ball from the aggrieved Siddle. He then dropped a catch off his own bowling, with Amla allowed a lifeline after his tame, lame scoop off a slower ball toppled from Siddle's hands.

The experienced pair were near faultless thereafter, amassing an unbroken 136-run stand before bad light brought a premature end to the close of play. Calling for the second new ball and hauling his strike bowlers back into the attack after a tame spell from part-timers Michael Hussey and Rob Quiney, skipper Michael Clarke was duly stifled by the umpires. Play will start 10 minutes early come Saturday in a bid to recoup at least two of the eight lost overs.

For all the pre-match talk of the Brisbane deck, hailed as traditional by some and a turner by others, its condition really didn't amount to much on Friday. Smith, despite his personal lack of contribution, will consider this a very good toss to win - and Kallis and Amla will appreciate the opportunity to pick up where they left off against England earlier this year.