Wayne Parnell, preferred to Makhaya Ntini, struggled to hit a consistent length and went for 39 in his first five overs. It was a recurring leitmotif in those early overs, Parnell dragging the ball down and Tillakaratne Dilshan pinging the deep point and midwicket boundaries.
Graeme Smith looked increasingly confident at the crease, but playing for an Ajantha Mendis offbreak - the first ball the spinner delivered - he missed one that skidded and hurried on and had his leg stump pegged back.
Smith's bullish start hinted at the possibility of a Dilshan-style ambush, but inside four overs Mendis ripped the heart out of the batting order. He got Jacques Kallis to chip one to mid-off and next ball bowled JP Duminy with a flipper.