A costly dropped catch from Nathan Lyon has helped South Africa reach 2-185 at tea on day one of the third Test.
Lyon grassed a simple chance at point when Dean Elgar was on 53 during Thursday’s post-lunch session in Cape Town.
Elgar was 91 not out at tea, frustrating Australia’s attack alongside AB de Viliers in an unbeaten 93-run stand.
Steve Smith, who lost the toss for the first time in the four-Test series then admitted he was also keen to bat first, grew increasingly irritable as the day wore on.
Smith brought himself on to deliver the final over of the second session and almost trapped de Villiers lbw on 46. The skipper wisely opting against a review as the delivery would have bounced over the stumps.
In the previous over, Smith went close to dismissing Elgar for 87 with what would have been an astonishing one-handed slips catch.
Elgar copped painful blows to the helmet and forearm during his innings, swapping barbs with the tourists and whacking Lyon for a sweetly-timed six back over the offspinner’s head.
Lyon has dismissed the opener cheaply in near-identical fashion twice this series, which is currently level at 1-1.
The tweaker was called into the attack at Newlands after just eight overs but failed to generate the sort of bounce and turn he produced in the previous two Tests.
Josh Hazlewood removed Aiden Markram and Hashim Amla, and would have had a third wicket if not for Lyon’s dropped catch.
Elgar struggled for fluency early, then helped himself to 11 runs off Mitch Marsh’s first over.
The score was 2-92 after Amla fell to Hazlewood for the seventh time in his career, but de Villiers counter-attacked in a fashion that would have left Australia with a sense of deja vu.
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