Marsh, Smith ensure solid first day

Australia

Graeme Smith's decision to send Australia in to bat backfired shortly after lunch on the first day of the opening Test in Centurion, as the South Africans had only one wicket to show for their efforts after the interval.

Graeme Smith's decision to send Australia in to bat backfired shortly after lunch on the first day of the opening Test in Centurion, as the South Africans had only one wicket to show for their efforts after the interval.

Australia were in the pound seats at stumps on day one with Shaun Marsh unbeaten on 122 alongside Steve Smith (91) who effortlessly added 199 runs in a fifth-wicket partnership that stunned local supporters into silence.

And what should give the 50-strong Aussie supporters in the stands even more reason to rush to the ground on Tuesday is that batting conditions are known to be at their best during days two and three.

At the close of play the Australia were 297 for four having clawed their way back from a rather poor opening session during which they lost three wickets.

David Warner (12), Chris Rogers (4), debutant Alex Doolan (27) and skipper Michael Clarke (23) were all exposed top notch bowling by their hosts who would seemingly lack the same intensity after the lunch interval.

Prior to Marsh and Smith's collaboration Australia were 98 for four.

Marsh, who was flown in to replace the injured Shane Watson, enjoyed his share of fortune on the day too as he was put down by diving Hashim Amla and later Robin Peterson before he reached his ton.

While Amla's miss would go down as a half-chance in the gully region, Peterson dropped a regulation catch at cover.

Smith's innings was far more calculated than that of his batting partner. He timed the ball extremely well and was rarely caught playing at deliveries outside his off-stump.

Once the fast bowlers tired, the pair upped their scoring-rate against the South African spinners who never threatened to break the partnership.

Both Peterson and JP Duminy conceded 34 runs in their 10-over spells which, although not too expensive, allowed the Aussie batsmen to get some relief when pressure was built from the other end.

Dale Steyn was the pick of the South Africans as he returned figures of 54 for two in the 20 overs he bowled in his first outing since sustaining a rib injury.

From a fielding perspective, the Proteas made many uncharacteristic errors which further allowed the visitors to relieve some pressure.

South Africa: G Smith, A Petersen, H Amla, F du Plessis, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, R Peterson, R McLaren, V Philander, D Steyn, M Morkel

Australia: D Warner, C Rogers, A Doolan, S Marsh, M Clarke, S Smith, B Haddin, M Johnson, P Siddle, R Harris, N Lyon

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