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Page last updated at 17:10 GMT, Thursday, 26 February 2009

Australia recover from poor start

First Test, Johannesburg (day one, close):
Australia 254-5 v South Africa
Dates: 26 February-2 March Start time: 0830 GMT
Coverage: Scorecard and reports on BBC Sport website. Live on Sky Sports
Match scorecard

Dale Steyn
Steyn took 3-82, including a wicket with the fourth ball of the match

Australia recovered from a poor start to finish the opening day of the first Test against South Africa on 254-5 when bad light stopped play in Johannesburg.

Dale Steyn dismissed Phil Hughes (0) in the first over before Simon Katich and Mike Hussey followed to make it 38-3.

Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke added 113 before Ponting (83) fell to Makhaya Ntini and Clarke (68) went to Steyn.

But debutant Marcus North (47 not out) and Brad Haddin put on an unbeaten 72 to see Australia to the close.

"It's valuable to have those runs on the board because of the overcast conditions and the movement throughout the day," Clarke commented.

"When they bat, the new ball will definitely seam around and there will be swing throughout, and our attack can cover both of those bases."

Australia named three new caps, with fast bowler Ben Hilfenhaus joining Hughes and North for the match at the Wanderers Stadium.

And Hughes, 20, had a nightmare start, slashing at a short Steyn delivery off the fourth ball of the first over and only succeeding in getting a faint under-edge through to Mark Boucher.

It was the worst possible start for an Australia side seeking to avenge the home series defeat by the same opponents in December.

Things soon got worse with Katich also dismissed cheaply by Steyn, although the bowler had much to be grateful to Neil McKenzie for.

Katich opened the face in an attempt to steer an off-stump delivery away but mistimed the shot.

He lifted the ball to the right of McKenzie in the gully and the South African dived full-length to pull off a stunning one-handed catch.

The South Africans were making full use of conditions which were good for swing, with Ntini and Morkel providing dangerous partners for the excellent Steyn.

It was Morkel who struck next, in the 14th over, as Hussey, who has been woefully out of form and looked uncomfortable, lazily edged a full delivery to Kallis at second slip.


At the other end Australian captain Ponting had already displayed resolve in amassing 26 and, in new batsman Clarke, finally found a partner capable of digging in and resisting the South African attack.

The pair added 113 for the fourth wicket, with some fantastic front-foot play taking the initiative away from the home side.

Ponting had already survived two scares, being dropped by Graeme Smith at slip on 40 and having an inconclusive referral turned down on 70, when he was eventually bowled by Ntini 17 runs short of his century.

The dismissal seemed to unnerve Clarke and he was out shortly after when he played a loose stroke against Steyn and was caught behind, just before tea.

North and Haddin combined well in the final session of the day, with the former looking composed on his debut in scoring an unbeaten 47 and the latter providing steady support with 37 not out, before firstly bad light and then rain brought an end to play.

Australia will be pleased to have salvaged a respectable total in trying circumstances.

South Africa were hampered by an injury to Jacques Kallis, which limited him to only four overs, and they were left to rue their failure to press home their early advantage.

"The bowlers, myself included, would probably say we could have done better, but we're not too disappointed," said Steyn.

"We were a bowler short with Jacques off and it meant that instead of us bowling short spells of five overs, that was increased to seven or eight and it takes its toll.

"We haven't been on the field for a full day since early January and so we battled to string the overs together, the patience wasn't really there."

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see also
North stakes claim for Test place
22 Feb 09 |  Australia
Prince left out of S Africa squad
11 Feb 09 |  South Africa

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