Counterpart punch

Graeme Smith survived two close calls to post his 26th Test century and guide South Africa's comeback after Morne Morkel's five-wicket haul swiftly stemmed Australia's run flow on Friday in the second Test.

South Africa reached stumps at 217 for two on Day Two in reply to Australia's first innings of 550, with Smith unbeaten on 111 and Jacques Rudolph on 25. The tourists were in a radically better position than at stumps the previous day, when Australia had raced to its second-highest first-day score ever of 482 for 5.

Morkel triggered Australia's tail-end collapse when he bowled Michael Clarke for 230 and he finished with 5 for 146, his sixth five-wicket haul in Tests. The Australians added only 68 in 21 overs in ideal batting conditions before being dismissed just before lunch on Friday.

Smith had a big reprieve on 46 when he stepped down the pitch and wicket-keeper Matt Wade missed a routine stumping chance off Clarke's part-time spin.

And, after Mike Hussey broke the 138-run opening stand with a direct hit from mid-on to run out Alviro Petersen (54) at the non-striker's after he ran wide to avoid a collision with batting partner Smith, the South Africa captain was given another batting life.

Smith was on 78, and total at 146 for 1, when he was adjudged out after a loud, unanimous and instantaneous appeal for caught behind off James Pattinson but referred the decision to the TV umpire, who couldn't find evidence of a nick.

The South Africans were relatively untroubled by the Australian pacemen on flat and true second-day pitch and Clarke used eight bowlers, including all of his part-timers searching for a breakthrough.

Occasional leg-spinner David Warner provided one in his first over, having Hashim Amla (11) stumped by Wade with a ball that dipped and turned and surprised the South African batsman after an erratic few previous deliveries.

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