Starc warning for Proteas

PA Sport
Jaques Kallis, pictured, was one of two wickets the impressive Mitchell Starc took before lunch
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Jaques Kallis, pictured, was one of two wickets the impressive Mitchell Starc took before lunch

Australia had a fine first morning against South Africa in the decisive third Test in Perth, with two late wickets putting them in the box seat.

All eyes were on the retiring Ricky Ponting on Friday morning but after Proteas skipper Graeme Smith opted to bat first, he was forced to wait for centre stage.

Instead Mitchell Starc starred, clean bowling Alviro Petersen and Jacques Kallis in successive overs at the end of the session to leave South Africa 63 for three at lunch.

It made it a wonderful start for Australia, who need to win to reclaim top spot in the ICC rankings from their opponents.

Australia, remarkably, fielded an entirely changed seam attack with left-armers Mitchell Johnson and Starc coming in alongside debutant John Hastings. Ben Hilfenhaus, Peter Siddle and James Pattinson all dropped out, while Shane Watson returned from calf trouble, taking the place of Rob Quiney.

South Africa, meanwhile, offered a debut of their own - Dean Elgar in for Jacques Rudolph - as well as recalling Robin Peterson and Vernon Philander for Imran Tahir and Rory Kleinveldt.

Starc thought he had drawn first blood for Australia in the fifth over when he had Petersen given lbw for only four only to be denied on review.

Petersen got the scoreboard ticking with the first three boundaries of the day, all off Starc, and it took the fit-again Watson to strike for the hosts. His spell was in its third over when he found Smith's edge and Michael Clarke took a low catch at slip.

Hashim Amla hit the shot of the morning down the ground for four and Petersen had nudged his score to 30 by the time the returning Starc bowled him between bat and pad with a full swinging ball.

Kallis, only fit enough to bat in this match, lasted just seven balls before Starc parted the stumps again, the veteran all-rounder looking a little heavy-footed at the crease.

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