|Scorecard:||Australia v South Africa|
|Event:||South Africa in Australia 2012/13|
DateLine: 9th November 2012
Australia v South Africa
1st Test – Day One
South Africa won the toss, and elected to bat first against Australia in the First Test at The Gabba, Brisbane, Australia in front of a record crowd.
Graeme Smith was sent back early by Pattinson for 10 but Hashim Amla and Alviro Petersen helped South Africa recover with an unbeaten fifty run stand. The Proteas were 90/1 at lunch on Day 1. Although the bowlers were energetic and looking to snap up a few wickets but were not fiery enough in helpful conditions to bag more than two by the time stumps was called.
After Smith's departure they loosened their grip as Alviro Petersen and Hashim Amla batted calmly and with steely resolve to take South Africa to a comfortable position at lunch. On his way to his 90 not out, Amla surpassed 5000 runs in Test cricket. After Petersen mistimed a flick to leg off Nathan Lyon and was caught by Hussey at mid on for a fine 64 in walked Jacques Kallis. His innings was yet again disciplined with power which has served him grandly for nearly 15 years. Together they laid bare the vulnerability of a young Australian Attack.
The scoreline suggests that batting first was indeed the right decision and Australia will need to try out a some new things to get back into this match on a track that is increasingly looking batting friendly.
Michael Hussey and the debutant Rob Quiney were both called upon to have a bowl before the tea break which sliced Clarke's options and narrowed his strategies. The pace bowlers were unable to use the new ball to its full extent especially when the wicket did offer some movement. Hilfenhaus, despite his tidy figures, was short of the variation at the bowling crease he showed last summer. Lyon was able to gain some bounce at times and his flight did cause Petersen's downfall, but the Proteas batsmen made sure that he was unable to settle down into a rhythm by milking him for five runs per over.
There were few incomplete moments for the hosts when Kallis mistimed a pull shot to be caught at mid off only to be called back when Asad Rauf opted to check on the bowler's front foot to reveal a no-ball had been delivered. Amla was also dropped by Siddle when offered a caught and bowled chance when he was on 74.
One question which needs examination is the decision to leave Mitchell Starc out? He has been the standout Australian bowler recently while Hilfenhaus just did not look intimidating enough as his wide half volleys were a feast for Smith and Co. Leaving Starc out could prove to be a costly mistake. Then one can ask why has Peter Siddle, all of a sudden, become indispensable? In recent times he has done very little bowling and in the last Ashes series had a series ending average in the high 30s despite taking a hat trick? Hilfenhaus averaged 60 in that same series.
Just when the second new ball was due in the dying moments of the first day, the umpires deemed the light to be too poor to continue, leaving Amla and Kallis to happily walk off back to the pavilion. Both have given South Africa a sound start and base to build on while handing Australia a soft reminder that much higher standards will be required to ultimately challenge the World's Best.
From here on out, Australia would most likely play for a draw unless some quick inroads are made on Saturday. In the the scenario that the Proteas go on to a big total - Australia would first need to bat well, then exceed it significantly, and then bowl the visitors out again (and possibly have to bat again) – rather a tall order. Well we only need to wait a day to find out how it unfolds and enjoy some fine Test cricket after flurry of the 'short-form' version.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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