CAPTAIN Michael Clarke's second Test century in a row and his most courageous yet - made from a parlous position after Australia was sent in by his South African counterpart Graeme Smith - counterbalanced another peerless display of swing bowling by Dale Steyn on the first day of the first Test at Newlands. Their duel was at the heart of a compelling day of Test cricket shortened at each end by rain.
Australia was 8/214 stumps, which means South Africa won it, but not outright. Steyn said South Africa would have settled at the start for eight wickets, and Clarke said he had hoped for 300.
In helpful conditions, Steyn decapitated Australia, having Shane Watson caught at slip from a fiendish outswinger, then trapping Ricky Ponting lbw as the former captain tried to work a straightening ball to leg. Steyn, thinking Ponting had hit the ball, did not appeal and umpire Billy Doctrove gave him not out, but Smtih and wicketkeeper Boucher referred the decision to a higher authority.
Ponting was able to watch third umpire Billy Bowden's deliberations on the scoreboard screen, which must have felt like witnessing his own execution.
Meantime, debutant seamer Vernon Philander - a man destined to make a headline, or way or another - had Phil Hughes caught behind from a lifter. Hughes is notorious for being caught from nicks, but this can be excused as opener's occupational hazard. On this pitch, but another day, he and Watson might both have missed altogether with prejudice.
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