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Warner and Clarke make it Australia's day

South Africa, weakened by an injury to Steyn, struggled to hold its own on a batting day at Newlands

Warner and Clarke make it Australia's day - Cricket News
David Warner smashed 135 at close to run-a-ball as Australia ended the opening day of the third Test on 331 for 3.
Two contrasting innings put Australia in firm command of the third and decisive Test against South Africa on Saturday (March 1), as David Warner and Michael Clarke carried the tourists to a score of 331 for 3 on the opening day at a packed Newlands.

Warner provided the aggression, smashing 135 at close to a run per ball with consummate ease, to please those fans who like to see the ball flying to the boundary. Clarke gained the greatest respect of the old-school followers, evoking memories of Steve Waugh against the West Indies in 1995 as he gutsed his way through a sustained spell of chin music from Morne Morkel.
By the close Clarke was battered and bruised but not beaten, and had 92 to his name to put questions over his prolonged lean spell to bed. Steve Smith was alongside him on 50 not out, as Australia closed on a total that has already made South Africa’s road back into the match a long one.
It looked a likely scenario from early in the day. After Clarke had won the toss and elected to bat under sunny skies, Warner and Chris Rogers quickly showed how good the surface was by bringing up Australia’s 50 in the 10th over.
Although Rogers was caught at slip off the bowling of Dale Steyn soon after, Alex Doolan stuck around as Warner hammered his way to a lunchtime score of 75 from 73 deliveries.
Five overs after the break he got stuck in again, taking three fours from a Vernon Philander over, and it wasn’t long before he brought up a second century of a hugely productive series in 104 balls.
Doolan had departed by that stage, rushed into an ill-advised pull shot by Philander, but Steyn was struggling with a hamstring strain. He returned for a brief crack at Clarke, but soon limped off and wasn’t seen again. South Africa believe he may be good to go again in the morning.
Morkel took over from Steyn and his exchange with Clarke was the highlight of the day. The batsman was hit on the elbow in one over and required treatment, and then suffered a fearsome working over which had the crowd baying for blood. They didn’t quite get it, although Clarke was hit on the jaw, shoulder and midriff as Morkel got the ball leaping off a length from around the wicket.
Although Clarke was felled, like Waugh against Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh in ’95, he would not be cowed. His reward for sticking out a ferocious spell was the chance to play himself back into form, which he did against South Africa’s part-time spinners.
By the time Warner was caught behind off the bowling of JP Duminy, Clarke had found his feet - both literally and figuratively - and the Australian captain added an unbroken 114-run stand with Smith.
South Africa essentially ran out of ideas on a dry pitch that looks likely to break up and aid reverse-swing later in the game, and was unable to temper the Australian scoring rate as their part-time spinners went for more than four per over. The hosts took the second new ball in the final half-hour, but found it disappearing to the boundary with alarming regularity as Clarke and Smith made merry.
By the end of the day, South Africa was aiding them, with Hashim Amla taking an unnecessary shy at the stumps to gift Clarke five runs in the penultimate over. Smith went to fifty with a cheeky ramp shot from the next ball, which summed up the buoyant mood in an Australian team who were blown away in the second Test.
As South Africa found in Port Elizabeth, what a difference a week can make.

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