PERTH (Reuters) – Australia ripped through South Africa’s top order in the first hour, dismissed the tourists for 242 by tea and reached 105 without loss at close on the back of some Dave Warner fireworks on the opening day of the first test on Thursday.
Quinton de Kock and Temba Bavuma scored battling half centuries for South Africa after they were reduced to 32-4 but there was no doubt the standout performers on the first day of the Australian cricketing summer were wearing baggy green caps.
Left-arm quick Mitchell Starc, playing with an open wound on his leg after a nasty training accident that disrupted his preparations, struck in the first over and ended up with figures of 4-71.
Fellow pace spearhead Josh Hazlewood pitched in with 3-70 and the Marsh brothers, Mitchell and Shaun, both took spectacular catches on their home ground.
Warner, who provided some of the few highlights of Australia’s recent one-day international series humiliation at the hands of the South Africans, then took the fight to the tourists with the bat.
After a reprieve when he was lbw off a Vernon Philander no-ball, the pugnacious opener smashed the South African bowlers around the WACA, the ground where he announced his arrival as a test batsman with a brilliant 180 against India in 2012.
The 30-year-old lefthander brought up his 21st test half century when he slashed the ball through extra cover for his 10th four off the 39th delivery he had faced and will resume on 73 alongside Shaun Marsh, unbeaten on 29.
South Africa had arrived for the three-test series full of confidence after their limited-overs triumph and having emerged victorious on their last two visits to Australia with both trips featuring big wins at the WACA.
After winning the toss and choosing to bat, they were soon reeling as Starc, Hazlewood and later Peter Siddle illustrated the WACA pitch was going to offer the traditional pace and bounce noticeably absent last year when West Indies visited.
Opener Stephen Cook and Hashim Amla both departed without a run on the board, while Dean Elgar eked out 12 runs and JP Duminy 11 before they were sent packing.
Faf du Plessis scored 37 in a partnership of 49 with Bavuma, who then put together another of 71 with De Kock after his captain had been dismissed in the second over after lunch.
The diminutive Bavuma hit seven fours before he was dismissed by spinner Nathan Lyon for 51 two deliveries after reaching his third test half century, a diving Shaun Marsh diving low to scoop up the bat-pad catch.
De Kock continued his impressive one-man rearguard action and hit 11 fours and one huge six in his 84 but once he departed with a mistimed slap to Shaun Marsh at midwicket off Hazlewood, the end of the South Africa innings was in sight.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney; Editing by John O’Brien)