Peg in the ground - Alviro
Talk is easy, actions are harder -- but after just one day’s play out of a potential 15 in the battle for the test number-one ranking South Africa have taken a giant stride towards their stated aim of making a fast start in the three-test series against Australia after finishing the first day at the Gabba on 255-2 after winning the toss and batting first.
“We wanted to really put a peg in the ground and I think we have done really well in that regard,'' opening batsman Alviro Petersen said after play.
Petersen made a fluent 64 after the early loss of captain Graeme Smith to lay the foundation for an unbeaten third-wicket partnership of 136 between Hashim Amla (90*) and Jacques Kallis (84*).
“We are very happy with the way it has gone, it is a good start for us,” Petersen said.
Not even a freak injury to JP Duminy after the day’s play could dampen Petersen’s enthusiasm, despite the part-time off spinner having to carry the extra responsibility of being the only spinner in the starting XI following the decision to omit leggie Imran Tahir in favour of a debut for Rory Kleinveldt in a predominatly all-seam attack.
“We were in the great position to leave a guy like Imran out,'' Petersen said. “'We want to lessen the (bowling) load on Jacques Kallis, so we have four seamers. We are pretty comfortable with our bowling attack and our team.”
Australia, on the other hand, included off spinner Nathan Lyon and chose to rely on just three frontline seamers, one of whom admitted it had been a “long day.”
“You go into a first day at the Gabba and you come back with only two wickets, you look up at the scoreboard and it's been a long day, definitely,” admitted James Pattinson, who had just the wicket of Graeme Smith to show for in 20 overs.
“We can make excuses but we lacked a bit of penetration and consistency. When the wicket isn't playing how you want it, with a bit of movement and pace, you want to dry things up as much as you can. We bowled well in patches but the big thing was the consistency in dot balls, you play against world-class batsmen and they are good on slow wickets at getting the ball through gaps and rotating the strike like they did,” Pattinson said.
Amla was dropped by Peter Siddle on 74 -- a difficult return catch -- and Kallis was gifted a life on 43 when caught at mid-off from a Siddle no-ball.
“It could have been a different story with a bit of luck. Sidds's no ball and a dropped catch early on…we lacked that little bit of consistency on a wicket that wasn't offering a great deal,” Pattinson said.
“It was a little bit disappointing but the good thing is there is another day tomorrow, if we get some early wickets you never know. It's a pretty good wicket for batting, if we get some early wickets and get them out for under that 400 mark, we can put pressure on if we get as close to their total as we can. Hopefully the wicket dries out for the second innings when we bowl and there is more pace in it. But we are keeping a positive frame of mind, definitely.”