Hashim Amla continued his stellar year at the crease on day one at The Gabba after South Africa won the toss and chose to bat first. Amla, who has notched up 777 runs in 12 innings so far this year, looked his usual calm and composed self while he got stuck in with Jacques Kallis to help the visitors potter their way to 255-2 at the close of play on day one.
While there’s usually some assistance for the bowlers on the first morning, all Australia could manage was to get captain Graeme Smith out cheaply, with James Pattinson trapping him leg-before for 10. Alviro Petersen, Amla and Kallis dug in, though, and steadied the ship to help the Proteas set the foundation for what could be a massive total.
Kallis and Amla are familiar batting partners and their unbeaten stand of 136 took their partnership total to 3,607 at an average of 65. The pair have exceeded notched up a partnership over 200 thrice and they have gone past 300 thrice, too.
There was a surprise selection for the Proteas as they opted for an all-pace attack with Rory Kleinveldt making his debut. The curator at the Gabba did say earlier this week that the pitch could very well turn, but South Africa shook some of their conservatism and chose to blood Kleinveldt ahead of playing Imran Tahir.
Peterson, who scored 64 at the top of the order, conceded that selecting the rookie wasn’t really such a hard choice, especially with JP Duminy in the side. However, their plans have been foiled as Duminy has now been ruled out through injury.
“We felt that Rory was going to offer us some more on that wicket; it wasn’t as hard as we thought,” Petersen said.
“We felt that Australia has got so many left-handers that JP could play a big role for us with the ball, if needed. And that was the reason why we have probably gone with Rory.”
Duminy ruptured his Achilles tendon while taking part in fielding drills after day one, and his injury leaves the South Africans in a pickle with no other obvious tweakers in the side to fulfil a part-time spinner role while the pacers have a crack later on in the Test. Jacques Rudolph does sometimes bowl a bit, but whether he is a risk South Africa can afford will remain to be seen. The Proteas will now have to rely on an all-pace attack to dismantle the Australian batting line-up when they eventually make their way out to the crease.
Duminy, who made his debut in Australia four years ago because of an injury to Ashwell Prince, will play no further part in the first Test or in South Africa’s tour down under. He’s expected to be out for three to six months and will need surgery on his ankle. While the immediate impact is dire for South Africa, both Thami Tsolekile and Faf du Plessis have a chance to replace him in the second Test, with du Plessis being the most likely candidate.
The Proteas are in firm control after the first day’s play, though, and Petersen admitted that all the hard work done on day one would have to translate into some more solid knocks on the second day.
“We wanted to really put our peg in the ground, and I think we did that really well,” said Petersen.
“Two wickets down, we’re in a comfortable position, but tomorrow’s going to be really important, to back that up and make sure today’s work doesn’t go to waste.”
Pattinson, who dismissed Smith, admitted that the Aussies lacked a little bit of spark. And while the conditions weren’t exactly in their favour, the Australian attack looked somewhat wilted.
“Definitely a long day,” said Pattinson. “It wasn’t the Gabba wicket that we were used to. It was a bit slow and there was no sideways movement.
“You can make excuses, but we probably lacked a bit of penetration and a bit of consistency, and our maiden count was the big thing.
“When it’s not playing as much as you would like, you probably want to dry up the runs a bit, as we probably didn’t do that.”
Play ended early on day one due to bad light, and the eight overs lost will be made up with play starting half an hour earlier on day two. DM
Photo: JP Duminy (REUTERS)
Support DAILY MAVERICK & get FREE UBER vouchers every month
An increasingly rare commodity, quality independent journalism costs money, though not nearly as much as its absence can cost global community. No country can live and prosper without truth - that's why it matters.
Every Daily Maverick article and every Scorpio exposé is proof of our dedication to this unshakeable mission. Investing in our news media is by far the most effective investment into South Africa's future.
You can support Independent and Investigative journalism by joining Maverick Insider. If you contribute R150 or more per month you will receive R100 back in UBER vouchers. EVERY MONTH until October 2019.
So, if you'd like to help and do something meaningful for yourself and your country, then sign up to become a Maverick Insider. Together we can Defend Truth.
"Charms strike the sight but merit wins the soul." ~ Alexander Pope