A RESOLUTE 69 by Jonty Rhodes rescued South Africa from a middle- order collapse but Australia still held the upper hand after the opening day of the first Test at the Wanderers ground in Johannesburg yesterday.
After South Africa were dismissed for 251, Australia reached 34 without loss by the close and their decision to include two spinners
already looked vindicated.
Although the Victorian paceman Merv Hughes ended with the best figures of 3 for 59, it was the spin of the South Australian Tim May that caused the mid-afternoon collapse as South Africa, who won the toss, slumped to 126 for 6.
May took two wickets in the space of three balls, bowling the veteran Peter Kirsten through the gap and then having Brian McMillan caught at short-leg by the Tasmanian David Boon.
A seventh-wicket partnership of 68 between Rhodes and the wicketkeeper, Dave Richardson, enabled South Africa to stage a recovery but then the Victorian leg-spinner Shane Warne trapped Richardson leg before for 31.
With the pitch already taking spin, it was an ominous sign for South Africa, who had opted to play four pacemen.
South Africa scored quickly in the opening session, reaching 103 by lunch but losing three wickets in the process.
Andrew Hudson (17) was the first to depart, caught behind off a lifter from Craig McDermott and Hansie Cronje (21) edged Steve Waugh to slip. The opener Gary Kirsten hit eight boundaries in an enterprising 47 from only 75 deliveries but he was then bowled by Hughes shortly before lunch.
The same bowler dismissed the captain, Kepler Wessels, for 18 soon after the interval to a fine, diving catch by the Queenslander Matthew Hayden, playing his first Test in place of Mark Taylor, the tour vice-captain, who was ruled out because of flu.
May and Warne then broke through the middle order and only a ninth-wicket partnership of 46 between Rhodes and Fanie de Villiers (16) enabled South Africa to produce something of a respectable total.
Michael Slater (26 not out) and Hayden (six not out) then made the most of some wayward South African bowling to score 34 in just seven overs before the close.
(First day: South Africa won toss)
SOUTH AFRICA - First Innings
A C Hudson c Healy b McDermott17
G Kirsten b Hughes47
W J Cronje c Border b S Waugh21
* K C Wessels c Hayden b Hughes18
P N Kirsten b May12
J N Rhodes c M Waugh b McDermott69
B M McMillan c Boon b May0
D J Richardson lbw b Warne31
C R Matthews c Boon b Hughes6
P S De Villiers b McDermott16
A A Donald not out0
Extras (b1 lb10 nb3)14
Fall: 1-21 2-70 3-103 4-116 5-126 6-126 7-194
Bowling: McDermott 15.2-3-63-3 (nb 3); Hughes 20-6-59-3; May 22-5-62-2; S R Waugh 9-2-14-1; Warne 14-4-42-1.
AUSTRALIA - First Innings
M J Slater not out26
M L Hayden not out6
Extras (b1 lb1)2
Total (for 0)34
To bat: D C Boon, M E Waugh, S R Waugh, * A R Border, I A Healy, M G Hughes, S K Warne, T B A May, C J McDermott.
Bowling: Donald 4-0-20-0; De Villiers 3-1-12-0.Reuse content