Australia v South Africa, 3rd Test, Perth, 1st day November 30, 2012

Punter's final team-mate

ESPNcricinfo presents the plays of the day from the opening day of the deciding Test in Perth

Throw of the day
Hashim Amla was run out by Ashwell Prince during the last Test South Africa played in 2011 and he was again caught short during their final Test of 2012. Then he was 51 with South Africa chasing an improbable 450 against Sri Lanka in Durban when he called for a run and Prince refused to respond, leaving him stranded. This time he was on 11 when AB de Villiers tried the quick tap and run. Amla was fast to respond but so was David Warner, whose throw from point was accurate enough to result in a direct hit. Australia immediately knew they had their man and replays showed Amla was short of his ground by an inch.

Hand-wringing of the day
Mitchell Johnson usually has Graeme Smith clutching his hand in pain but he did not hurt the South African captain today. Instead, he struck Vernon Philander later on. With an over to go before tea, Johnson wanted to do as much damage as he could and got one to rear up from back of a length. Philander expected it to be a little shorter and found himself in an awkwardly defensive position and his glove in direct contact with the ball. He immediately pulled the bottom hand away but the sting was obvious as he grimaced for a few seconds afterwards.

Presentation of the day
John Hastings became the 430th Test cricketer to represent Australia and was given his baggy green cap by Adam Gilchrist in a presentation before play. Hastings also became Ricky Ponting's 82nd Test team-mate, a remarkable figure that means nearly 20% of the men who have played Test cricket for Australia over the past 135 years have walked out onto the field with Ponting.

Reflection of the day
As Ponting was practising his slips catches on the field, preparing for his final Test, it was notable that the man hitting the ball to him was Stuart Law, Australia's acting batting coach. Law and Ponting made their Test debuts together at the WACA 17 years ago and both men scored half-centuries. In fact, they put on 121 together for the fifth wicket against Sri Lanka, a partnership that ended when Ponting was wrongly given lbw for 96. Law finished on 54 not out. He did not play another Test. Ponting is now taking part in his 168th. On the first morning of this match, Law could have been forgiven for wondering what might have been.

Drop of the day
Hastings was still searching for his maiden Test wicket in the first over after lunch when he drew a false stroke from Amla, who chipped the ball to midwicket. It looked like a regulation catch, and so it should have been, but Ed Cowan somehow let the ball slip through his fingers. A disappointed Hastings could do nothing but walk back to his mark and try again. Fortunately for Hastings he didn't have to wait long - an edge to slip in his next over had AB de Villiers snapped up by Michael Clarke.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo and Firdose Moonda is South Africa correspondent

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