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Rediff.com  » Sports » Australia fight back after early blows

Australia fight back after early blows

December 17, 2008 17:16 IST

- Scorecard

Australia rallied from a top order collapse to end the opening day in the first Test against South Africa on a respectable 341-for 9 at the WACA in Perth on Wednesday.

The day started with a bang. Matthew Hayden (12), struggling for form of late, hit Makhaya Ntini for three exquisite boundaries in his first two overs. The South African paceman had his revenge immediately after the third of those hits though. Hayden edged the next ball to Graeme Smith at first slip.

Captain Ricky Ponting (0) came and went, caught by AB de Villiers at third slip, off the very first ball he faced.

Ntini was on a hat-trick, but Hussey survived. Not for long though.

Dale Steyn angled one across him and Hussey was forced to play, de Villiers again coming up with a brilliant catch in the slips.

The left-hander also failed to open his account and the hosts were struggling at 15 for 3, having won the toss.

But Simon Katich (83) and Michael Clarke (62) did the repair work with a 149-run partnership for the fourth wicket.

Things were looking up for Australia when the visitors handed them a double blow. Both the settled batsmen were dismissed in quick succession -- Katich caught plumb in front by Morne Morkel and Clarke paplpably frustrated and spooning a catch to Smith off Paul Harris.

Australia were in trouble again at 166 for 5.

It was left to Andrew Symonds (57) and Brad Haddin (46) to carry out another repairing job in a 93-run stand for the sixth wicket. More importantly, they came at more than five runs per over.

However, as Symonds miscued one of Harris, South Africa saw hope again.

Brett Lee (29) and Mitchell Johnson (18), the latter falling to the day's last ball, contributed in bits to push the Australian total further.

Now, expecting more from Jason Krejza (19 not out) and Peter Siddle (still to bat) is a bit too much.

At stumps, Australia 341 for 9. Perhaps, the total is just about enough considering the nature of the WACA wicket.