Visitors lose early wickets

2014-02-12 14:23

Australia: 83/3 (Doolan 27, Marsh 23*, Warner 12, McLaren 1/8, Morkel 1/20, Steyn 1/23)

The Proteas edged a topsy-turvy morning session in which the visitors lost wickets at crucial times.

Australian captain Michael Clarke called the toss incorrectly and had to see his openers make use of a pitch with a greenish tinge and consistent bounce.

The visitors made two changes to the team that beat England in Sydney during the New Year’s test. Tasmanian Alex Doolan was given his test bow at first drop, replacing Shane Watson. Shaun Marsh filled George Bailey’s slot, even though he came in at number four. Ryan McLaren was chosen ahead of Wayne Parnell to fill the all-rounder’s slot vacated by Jacques Kallis.

David Warner, whose natural instincts are to attack, hit a boundary off Dale Steyn’s first over. But the lines were tightened and the lengths were readjusted to a point where Warner chopped a fullish Steyn delivery onto his off-stump.

His was a brief but flashy innings, falling on his attacking sword. He lives by it and he dies by it.

Playing in his first test match despite an extensive first-class journey, Chris Rogers was not at ease against the moving ball, especially from the Hennops River end, where Steyn was operating from.

He crawled to a 19-ball four before he fell victim to a Morne Morkel short-ball. It was a two card trick: Softened by a vicious lifter the ball before, he fended the following lifter into JP Duminy’s hands at backward short leg. Before the first hour was up, Australia was 28/2 and old batting frailties seemed to be manifesting themselves.

Doolan and Marsh combined for a watchful 48-run third wicket partnership, seemingly intent on taking the shine from the new ball. After working hard against the front-line quicks, Doolan threw his wicket away, pulling McLaren to Alviro Petersen at midwicket.

It undid all the good work he’d done after stabilising the innings during his 51-ball knock. It was left to Clarke and Marsh to take the visitors safely to lunch.

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