Clarke said Australia were pleased with the tally having found batting tough.

0
65

“It’s valuable to have those runs on the board because of the overcast conditions and the movement throughout the day,” he said.

“When they bat, the new ball will definitely seam around and there will be swing throughout, and our attack can cover both of those bases.”

Clarke also praised North for his valuable unbeaten 47.

“Marcus has looked very comfortable from day one on tour and has been playing first-class cricket for a long time. He’s very confident and disciplined and that’s working out there for him.”

Ponting made 83, with 11 fours and a six, before he was dismissed by Makhaya Ntini after leaving a delivery that moved in, hit the top of his pad and went on to the stumps.

The Australian captain had earlier been dropped by opposite number Graeme Smith at first slip off Steyn on 40 and promptly hooked the next ball for six.

He also won a decision reviewed to the third umpire on 70 after the South Africans disagreed with umpire Billy Bowden’s not-out verdict for a caught-behind appeal off Morkel.

Clarke also went before tea for 68 after a wide, full delivery from Steyn kept swinging away and wicketkeeper Mark Boucher gratefully accepted the catch.

A fine new-ball spell by Steyn and a magnificent catch by Neil McKenzie in the morning had rocked Australia, who won the toss and chose to bat.

Debutant Phillip Hughes fell in the first over for a duck, edging an awful cut at a Steyn bouncer into the gloves of Boucher.

Simon Katich (3) went to McKenzie’s superb one-handed catch in the gully, diving full length to intercept a back foot drive off Steyn and Morkel had Michael Hussey caught at second slip by Kallis for four.

AUSTRALIA first 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 not out 47
B. Haddin not out 37

Extras: (lb-7, nb-4, w-1) 12
Total: (five wickets; 68 overs) 254
Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-18, 3-38, 4-151, 5-182.

Bowling: Steyn 19-2-82-3 (nb-1), Ntini 16-4-53-1, Morkel 16-2-65-1 (nb-3, w-1), Kallis 4-0-19-0, Harris 11-2-18-0, Duminy 2-0-10-0.