Australia v South Africa, 1st Test, Brisbane, 1st day November 9, 2012

Amla and Kallis lay strong foundation


South Africa 2 for 255 (Petersen 64, Amla 90*, Kallis 84*) v Australia
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Spectators who arrived at the Gabba in record numbers for a non-Ashes Test might have expected fire and brimstone from the Australian fast bowlers and plenty of chatter from their slips cordon. Instead the most resonant noise of the day was the repeated clunk of ball on the bats of Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis, as South Africa capitalised on a mediocre display from the hosts' attack to waltz to 2 for 255 by the time bad light brought an early close.

Losing only the captain Graeme Smith and his fellow opener Alviro Petersen all day, the visitors gave Michael Clarke's men the sort of lessons in concentration and crease occupation they had dealt so mercilessly to England earlier this year. Amla's typically cultured innings took him to 5000 Test runs more swiftly than Ricky Ponting had once managed, and Kallis played with the familiar combination of discipline and power that has served him grandly for near enough to 15 years. Together they laid bare the vulnerability of an Australian attack with only four specialist bowlers.

That Michael Hussey and the debutant Rob Quiney were both called upon before the tea break reflected how slim Clarke's options became. Ben Hilfenhaus, James Pattinson and Peter Siddle failed to use the new ball adequately on a surface that, while tacky and slowish, did offer enough movement to beat the bat if the ball was landed with precision.

But apart from a brief spell either side of Smith's pre-lunch wicket, in which Pattinson and Siddle found the ideal length and line to cause discomfort, no batsman was unduly troubled by pace, Hilfenhaus lacked the incisiveness and variation on the bowling crease he showed last summer, despite tidy figures. Nathan Lyon gained disconcerting bounce at times and his flight caused Petersen's downfall, but South Africa's batsmen ensured he was unable to settle into a rhythm by taking him for five runs per over.

Nonetheless, the day might have ended differently had Siddle not slipped up against both batsmen in the final session. Kallis had 43 when he miscued a pull shot to mid-off, only for Asad Rauf's check on the bowler's front foot to reveal a no-ball had been delivered. On 74, Amla pushed a return catch that Siddle would have taken last year when so much seemed to work for him, but this time it fell to ground.

Australia's indifferent start seemed at least partly driven by nerves at facing up to the world's top-ranked team at home. Hilfenhaus and Pattinson were too short and too straight in the early overs, allowing Smith and Petersen the chance to tuck several deliveries away to the legside. The home side's over-excitement was best conveyed by a frivolous decision referral when a Hilfenhaus delivery brushed Smith's pad on the way through to Matthew Wade down the legside, leaving them with only one more for the remainder of the innings.

As he often did last summer, Siddle showed the way by bowling a little fuller and extracting some more deviation from the surface. With the last ball of the innings' 10th over he fizzed one past Petersen's bat on the ideal length, and Pattinson paid attention.

Swung around to the end from which he nipped out five New Zealand batsmen in the second innings of the corresponding Test last year, Pattinson's first ball of a new spell straightened on off stump to Smith, who looked palpably lbw. The umpire Billy Bowden was unconvinced, but an incandescent Pattinson encouraged a referral that had Bowden's finger belatedly raised.

Lyon's introduction revealed plenty of bounce and some turn on the first morning, but Petersen and Amla showed plenty of attacking intent to keep the spinner from settling. Amla advanced to crash a straight six, and by lunch was looking every bit as ominous as he had in England.

The early overs of the afternoon unfolded carefully, Australia trying to tighten up and South Africa unwilling to surrender their advantage with undue haste. It was Petersen who seemed in the greater hurry, and his aggression would result in Australia's only wicket of the session.

Reverting to round the wicket, Lyon looped the ball nicely, and Petersen found himself short of the pitch when he tried to muscle down the ground. Hussey accepted the catch, and at 2 for 119 Clarke's side had the glimmer of an opening.

It was soon shut by Kallis, who was swiftly into his stride with attractive drives and one ungainly but effective pull beyond wide long-on for six. Lyon was being taken for around five runs per over, but he created as much doubt in the batsmen's minds as any of the pacemen, who struggled to find the right length on a consistent basis.

When they did, the ball could still beat the bat, but the sight of both Hussey and the debutant Quiney at the bowling crease before tea on day one of the series was not an encouraging portent for the hosts. Siddle's missed opportunities in the final session sapped the energy of the fielders, and the wait for the second new ball seemed interminable.

By the time it arrived, the umpires deemed the light to be too poor for it to be delivered safely, leaving Amla and Kallis to walk off. They have given South Africa the best possible start, and Australia a sobering reminder that far higher standards will be required to seriously challenge the world's best.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on November 10, 2012, 7:25 GMT

    @Rajesh_india_1990 please check indias all tours to southafrica.Even they cannot score 100 in an innings in most of test.Indias worst record is against southafrica both in home and away.Last indias tour india played well,for that you have appreciate garykirsten(southafrican player).I still belevie last series in southafrica remains as a record forever.

  • Dummy4 on November 10, 2012, 7:00 GMT

    @Shobhit Singh why dont god of cricket sachin atleat save 1 test from england whitewash(4-0)or australia whitewash (4-0).Is this god not interested in australian and england tour?In ODI you cannot compare kallis and sachin beacause kallis average more than sachin in ODI and more wickets than sachin..

  • Heath on November 10, 2012, 6:10 GMT

    Oh well. Day 2 to Australia.

  • Cameron on November 10, 2012, 5:28 GMT

    The idea that Sachin Tendulkar, great as he undoubtedly is, is the best batsmen of all time is simply ridiculous. The Don's average was not just marginally better than SRT's it was 81% better. That pretty much makes any other discussion irrelevant.

  • VINODK on November 10, 2012, 5:12 GMT

    @sameer111111, Perth in 1992 against Mcdermott, Whitney and Merv Hughes bouncy enough for u ? It was a real trampoline. Remember Ambrose destroying Australia there the following year. Please think before u start typing. By the way how many centuries has Kallis got at the WACA?

  • Dummy4 on November 10, 2012, 4:37 GMT

    I agree with Sabeer Hussain comments: "Hashim Amla is having a simple, innocent look in his body language and what a dynamic batsman he is, we all know that". Amla + Kallis + DeVilliers + South Africa Pace Attack = "Murdering the Opposition"

  • Anwar uz on November 10, 2012, 4:35 GMT

    Pace does not matter to SA, remember they practice against Steyn/Morkel & Co.? AUS should pick the best length from which to swing or bounce the ball to come back. The pitch is supposed to flatten out but with the rain, swing + spin may become a factor hence. Seems SA has picked up the easiest 250runs yof this Test. If no rain follows after today then this match will be interesting to watch or follow.

  • Kamala on November 10, 2012, 4:35 GMT

    I'm really bemused by the wicket to say the least - makes a mockery of the notion that only the subcontinent has slow, flat tracks, given this GABBA wicket and the one in England for the first test against SA this year. Australia's best chance would be to prepare a wicket with more pace and bounce to expose the weaknesses of players like Kallis. Kallis thrives on flat tracks like this when everyone else in his team scores runs, like in England earlier this year. He feasted on a flat track in Test 1 and failed thereafter. For a so-called great player, he goes unusually quiet when SA are under the pump. Sure Steyn and co. would be a handful on faster wickets but at least Australia would have a chance of bowling them out.

  • Chandima on November 10, 2012, 4:18 GMT

    Didn't think Tendulkar is playing in this he?

  • Chandima on November 10, 2012, 3:55 GMT

    It's being non-stop rain since last night. To think we didn't have any substantial rain over 2 months before this... I'm almost convinced cricket matches are as good as artificial rain in getting rid of a drought! ICC should arrange cricket matches in some of those African countries where they badly need some rain. :-)

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