David Warner’s undefeated 121 off just 132 balls put Australia in charge of the third and decisive test against South Africa at Newlands on Saturday as the tourists reached tea on 195—2.
Warner scored his seventh test century after Australia had won the toss and decided to bat in sunny conditions.
South Africa failed to create an opportunity against the controversial left-hander on a flat pitch that offered little to the bowlers.
The hosts were also unable to remove Michael Clarke with a sustained bombardment of short-pitched bowling.
Clarke was hit on the elbow, shoulder and jaw during a brutal spell of fast bowling from around the wicket by Morne Morkel. The Australian captain’s refusal to budge showed the importance that this series, which is locked at 1—1, holds for both sides.
South Africa managed just one wicket in each session, with Dale Steyn having Chris Rogers caught at slip for 25, and Alex Doolan falling to Vernon Philander after lunch for 20.
All the while Warner made merry, smashing 12 fours on the way to his second century of the series.
Both sides made two changes, and bold fast bowling selections.
While Australia preferred the more incisive James Pattinson to the workaholic Peter Siddle, South Africa replaced the injured Wayne Parnell with Kyle Abbott instead of Rory Kleinveldt despite Abbott only being called into the squad this week.
Allrounder Shane Watson was recalled to the Australian side as expected at the expense of Shaun Marsh, while South Africa opener Alviro Petersen returned from a bout of gastroenteritis to replace Quinton de Kock.
Captain Graeme Smith confirmed that Petersen’s recovery had sparked a shuffle in South Africa’s batting lineup, with Dean Elgar dropping down to No. 3, Hashim Amla batting at four and Faf du Plessis coming in at six, where he batted prior to Jacques Kallis’ retirement.