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South Africa bowls 1st in opening test vs. Aus

February 12, 2014

CENTURION, South Africa (AP) — South Africa captain Graeme Smith won the toss and put Australia in to bat at SuperSport Park in the first test on Wednesday.

Smith opted to use his fast bowlers first on a pitch that will likely offer pace and bounce in the early part of the series-opener at Centurion. Australia captain Michael Clarke said he would have batted first anyway.

South Africa picked Ryan McLaren to replace Jacques Kallis in the top-ranked Proteas’ first match since the retirement of allrounder Kallis.

No. 3-ranked Australia gave Alex Doolan his test debut at No. 3 and batsman Shaun Marsh also came into the side to bat at No. 4. They replaced George Bailey, who was dropped for the tour, and Shane Watson, who is out of the first test with a calf injury, as the two changes to the team that beat England 5-0 in the Ashes.

Marsh’s inclusion completed a remarkable turnaround after he was initially left at home because of injury but then proved his fitness and joined the tour.

Kallis’ retirement after 18 years on South Africa’s team means Faf du Plessis will be pushed up to bat at No. 4 and allrounder McLaren comes in at No. 7.

Both sides kept with their highly-rated fast-bowling attacks. The battle between Australia’s pace trio of Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle against Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel for South Africa is expected to play a major role in the series.

The three-test series also has games in Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. South Africa last lost a test series in 2009 when it was beaten at home by Australia.

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Lineups:

South Africa: Graeme Smith (captain), Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, A.B. de Villiers, J.P. Duminy, Ryan McLaren, Robin Peterson, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel.

Australia: Michael Clarke (captain), David Warner, Chris Rogers, Alex Doolan, Shaun Marsh, Steve Smith, Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Ryan Harris, Nathan Lyon.