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North and Johnson in good stand

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DELIGHTFUL DEBUT: Australia’s Marcus North celebrates after reaching his century.
DELIGHTFUL DEBUT: Australia’s Marcus North celebrates after reaching his century.

The two carry Australia to 466 in its first innings

JOHANNESBURG: Debutant Marcus North hit a powerful 117 in the first Test against South Africa on Friday to help guide Australia to an imposing 466 all out at tea in the visitors’ first innings on the second day of the match. Australia, seeking to rebound from a 2-1 series defeat to South Africa at home in December and January, showed admirable composure after stumbling to 38 for three at one stage on the first day.

North and No. 9 batsman Mitchell Johnson, who thrashed an unbeaten 96 off 131 balls, including 10 fours and five sixes, added 117 for the eighth wicket. The stand demoralised the hosts who had taken two wickets in the first five overs after taking the second new ball.

The Australian duo had taken the total to 413 when North, who hit a dozen fours, was stumped by Mark Boucher after Paul Harris beat him in the air.

More punishment

But there was more punishment to come for South Africa. Johnson, who had also proved a difficult batsman to dismiss in Australia, threw his bat at everything once North was out. He clubbed Harris for 26 runs — three sixes and two fours — in an over to move into the 80s, and took three fours off a Dale Steyn over to get into the 90s.

However, he fell four runs short of a maiden Test century as he watched partners Peter Siddle (nine) and Ben Hilfenhaus (0) caught in the slips off successive balls from Morne Morkel to bring the innings to a close. Siddle had also been caught off a no-ball one delivery earlier.

Australia was firmly in control after the first two sessions on Friday, after ending the first day with a score of 254 for five.

South Africa struck twice in six balls with the second new ball, but the attack struggled to dismiss the Australian tail.

The inability of the South Africa attack to bowl out the tail cheaply is reminiscent of its experiences in the recent 2-1 Test series triumph in Australia.

Its own good batting allowed South Africa to triumph, but spirited resistance from the Australia tail is a worrying trend for the host. — AP

SCOREBOARD

 Australia — 1st innings: P. Hughes c Boucher b Steyn 0, S. Katich c McKenzie b Steyn 3, R. Ponting b Ntini 83, M. Hussey c Kallis b Morkel 4, M. Clarke c Boucher b Steyn 68, M. North st. Boucher b Harris 117, B. Haddin c Harris b Ntini 63, A. McDonald c Kallis b Steyn 0, M. Johnson (not out) 96, P. Siddle c Kallis b Morkel 9, B. Hilfenhaus c de Villiers b Morkel 0; Extras (b-6, lb-8, nb-7, w-2): 23; Total (in 125.4 overs): 466.

Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-18, 3-38, 4-151, 5-182, 6-295, 7-296, 8-413, 9-466.

South Africa bowling: Steyn 30-5-113-4, Ntini 27-6-71-2, Morkel 28.4-3-117-3, Kallis 8-0-33-0, Harris 18-2-64-1, Duminy 14-2-54-0.

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