David Warner scored a half-century as Australia reached 98-1 at lunch on the first day of the second Test at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth.
Australia started well, but lost Cameron Bancroft for 38 when he was caught by Quinton de Kock off the bowling of Vernon Philander, to break the 98-run stand between the openers, with what would be the last ball before lunch.
Steve Smith won the toss, which was briefly delayed by rain, and elected to bat first. South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis insisted he would have bowled first anyway.
Openers Bancroft and Warner, who would have wanted to get on with the game after a week in the headlines, began slowly, but played with more freedom as the session went on.
Philander began the innings with a maiden over, but it was Kagiso Rabada who got the ground excited with a beauty of a first ball to Warner.
The Australians were slowly getting a feel for the wicket and opted not to play expansive shots.
Lungi Ngidi, playing only his third Test, joined the attack after nine overs and went for just one run in his first six balls.
Philander was getting a lot of seam movement early on and had a good lbw shout turned down after the ball hit Bancroft above the pads.
The Australian run rate after the first hour of play was uncharacteristically low at just 1.64, with Warner having a quiet morning, scoring just eight runs.
Warner’s first four of the innings came after he punished an overpitched Rabada delivery, which Keshav Maharaj chased desperately before it crossed the boundary line.
The Australian run rate went up slightly, but Du Plessis would have been happy with his team’s early efforts.
The visitors started picking up their run rate, and Ngidi was smashed for two fours in his fourth over, first by Bancroft, and then by Warner.
Warner, having already scored a boundary off Rabada, edged the ball for another four after Du Plessis had just taken away the third slip.
After 17 overs, the Australian run rate had shot up to 3.43.
Half an hour before lunch, Du Plessis introduced Maharaj to the attack, and he did the job in slowing down the Australians, going for just one run in his first over.
Warner reached his half-century with a single off Rabada.
Philander was brought back into the attack and made the big breakthrough for the home side when he had Bancroft caught behind for 38.
Australia 98-1: David Warner 50, Cameron Bancroft 38, Vernon Philander 1-5
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images