South Africa fights back after a pummelling

DURBAN: Opening batsmen Phillip Hughes (115) and Simon Katich (108) hit centuries on Friday to guide Australia to a dominant position against South Africa on the first day of the second Test.

The Australians finished the day on 303 for four, with Michael Hussey (37) and Marcus North (17) forging an unbeaten 37-run partnership for the fifth wicket.

South Africa had made some inroads into the Australian batting by taking two wickets in each of the final two sessions of the day, but the touring side holds the edge on the day’s play.

Maiden century

Hughes was the more aggressive of the openers, batting 190 minutes and smashing 19 fours and two sixes before being first man out.

Far from worrying about reaching his maiden Test century, the 20-year-old Hughes went from 89 to 105 in one over from Paul Harris.

He leapt from 93 to 105 by hitting successive leg-side sixes off the spin bowler.

Hughes was finally out when the first-wicket partnership was worth 184.

He tried an extravagant cut shot but was well-held by Neil McKenzie in the gully off Jacques Kallis.

Kallis had dropped Hughes on 114 off the bowling of Morne Morkel, who also later lost out on a referred decision when South Africa suggested Katich had touched a delivery to wicketkeeper Mark Boucher when he was on 63.

TV umpire Steve Bucknor upheld standing umpire Billy Bowden’s not-out decision.

Katich, Hughes’ captain at New South Wales, played a more patient innings, reaching 108 in 296 minutes, hitting 16 fours.

He was the third man out, with the total on 259, to be followed seven runs later by Michael Clarke (three).

But Australia recovered through the efforts of Hussey and North.

Earlier, Australia captain Ricky Ponting (nine) failed to get hold of an attempted lofted drive over mid-off, off Harris, and McKenzie grabbed the catch, one ball after Ponting had only just cleared him with the same shot.

South Africa’s bowlers were guilty of some loose deliveries in the first session, with Morkel the chief culprit.

He went for eight in his first over — the 10th of the innings — and then conceded 21 including four byes which flew over the keeper’s head in his second. Hughes hit six fours in Morkel’s first two overs, one off a no-ball.

Although he is known for heavy scoring behind square on the off-side, many of Hughes’ boundaries on Friday were driven straight or to the leg-side as the bowlers struggled with their length and line. — AP

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