Perth : Australia survived a top-order collapse to reach 341 for nine against South Africa after an absorbing first day’s play of the first cricket Test here Wednesday.
Australia were reduced to 15 for three before Simon Katich (83) and Michael Clarke (62) stitched 149 runs to hold the innings at the Western Australia Cricket Association (WACA) Ground.
Andrew Symonds (57) and Brad Haddin (46) and the lower order contributed valuable runs even as South African pacers continued to torment the hosts.
The pick of the South African bowlers was Makhaya Ntini (3-66) while Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and spinner Paul Harris got two wickets each.
Australia after electing to bat were on the backfoot as Ntini removed Hayden and Ponting while Steyn took out Hussey.
Hayden hit two fours off Ntini in the first over, but his bad form caught on with him as he gave a catch to skipper Graeme Smith at first slip. In the next ball, Ntini dismissed Ponting for a duck as his push went straight to de Villiers at third slip. Hussey played out the hat-trick delivery but could not stay for long.
Hussey nicked Steyn to third slip where de Villiers took a stunning catch diving forward. Australia were looking down the barrel when Katich and Clarke combined to save the innings. Both Katich and Clarke hit eight boundaries each.
Both were dismissed within two runs before tea and Australia were once again in a wobbly position at 166 for five.
Symonds, who has been going through a loss of form since returning to the side, played a quickfire innings (57 off 68 balls) that included seven boundaries. He was supported by Haddin, who too scored at a quick pace and the duo brought up 93 runs.
The lower order — Brett Lee (29), Jason Krezja (19 not out) and Mitchell Johnson (18) — chipped in with useful contributions.