Proteas make confident start

Sydney, January 3:

South Africa made a confident start to the third Test here as they look to replace Australia as the leading Test-playing nation.

Dale Steyn took the crucial late wicket of Brad Haddin (38) to end a 75-run partnership with Michael Clarke. Vice-captain Clarke was 73 not out at the close, having been dropped twice, as Australia reached 267-6.

South Africa lead the series 2-0 and are hoping to inflict Australia’s first home whitewash in 122 years. Australia gave debuts to all-rounder Andrew McDonald and pace bowler Doug Bollinger.

Matthew Hayden reined in his attacking instincts and was outscored by partner Simon Katich as they put on 62 for the first wicket. But Australia then suffered a double blow as Katich was caught at second slip off Jacques Kallis and Ponting departed first ball in the next over as Morne Morkel found the inside edge of his bat and keeper Mark Boucher did the rest.

Hayden’s (31) watchful innings came to an end after lunch when he attempted to drive a wide ball from Dale Steyn only to drag the ball into his stumps. His exit left Australia on 109-3 and put the onus on Michael Hussey and Clarke to rebuild the innings.

But Paul Harris had Hussey (30) caught at slip by Kallis. Clarke had an escape on 12 when Makhaya Ntini put down a difficult chance at mid-off. Ntini dismissed of McDonald leaving Australia on 162-5. Clarke and Haddin lifted the team before the pair were eventually separated when Steyn hit the top of Haddin’s off stump.