Australia off to flying start
Twin centuries put Australia in strong position on first day of the second Test.
Last Modified: 06 Mar 2009 17:14 GMT

Phillip Hughes enjoys his maiden century [GALLO/GETTY]
Opening batsmen Phillip Hughes (115) and Simon Katich (108) hit centuries on Friday to guide Australia to a dominant position against South Africa on the first day of the second Test.

The Australians finished the day on 303-4, with the not-out batsmen Michael Hussey (37) and Marcus North (17) forging a 37-run partnership for the fifth wicket.

South Africa had made some inroads into the Australian batting by taking two wickets in each of the final two sessions of the day, but the touring side hold the edge on the day's play.

Maiden century

Hughes was the more aggressive of the openers, batting 190 minutes and smashing 19 fours and two sixes before being first man out.

Far from worrying about reaching his maiden Test century, the 20-year-old Hughes went from 89 to 105 in one over from Paul Harris.

He leapt from 93 to 105 by hitting successive leg-side sixes off the spin bowler.

Hughes was out when the first-wicket partnership was worth 184. He tried an extravagant cut shot but was well-held by Neil McKenzie in the gully off Jacques Kallis.

Kallis had dropped Hughes on 114 off the bowling of Morne Morkel, who also later lost out on a referred decision when South Africa suggested Katich had touched a delivery to wicketkeeper Mark Boucher when he was on 63.

TV umpire Steve Bucknor upheld standing umpire Billy Bowden's not-out decision.

Katich, Hughes' captain at New South Wales, played a more patient innings, reaching 108 in 296 minutes, hitting 16 fours.

He was the third man out, with the total on 259, to be followed seven runs later by Michael Clarke (three).

But Australia recovered through the efforts of Hussey and North.

"That's the way I like to play my cricket," Hughes said.

"It was nice to be batting with Simon when I got the century. I've spent a fair bit of time batting with him (in state cricket in Australia)."

"We are definitely in a great position after the first day ... we need to take it forward Saturday," Hughes added.

Paul Harris of South Africa almost bowls Australia's Marcus North [GALLO/GETTY]
Loose deliveries

Earlier, Australia captain Ricky Ponting (nine) failed to get hold of an attempted lofted drive over mid-off, off Harris, and McKenzie grabbed the catch, one ball after Ponting had only just cleared him with the same shot.

South Africa's bowlers were guilty of some loose deliveries in the first session, with Morkel the chief culprit.

He went for eight in his first over - the 10th of the innings - and then conceded 21 including four byes which flew over the keeper's head in his second.

Hughes hit six fours in Morkel's first two overs, one off a no-ball.

Although he is known for heavy scoring behind square on the off-side, many of Hughes' boundaries on Friday were driven straight or to the leg-side as the bowlers struggled with their length and line.

Unfortunately for South Africa there was little to be seen of the pressure the Proteas had wanted to apply from the start of the game, as they attempt to level the series at 1-1.

They improved as the day went on, significantly bringing the Australian run-rate well below four by the close.

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