Australia dominated the first day of the final Test against South Africa, going 331 for 3 in a highly entertaining first session.
The story of the day was Michael Clarke surviving a brutal onslaught from Morne Morkel, refusing to be bullied by the Proteas quick and showcasing his tremendous bat in the process. Paired with Steven Smith, the Aussies have jumped to a big lead on the back of a batting clinic.
Listed below are the top performers for the day.
Michael Clarke (92 runs, 181 balls, not out)
The fact that Clarke is still playing is a victory in its own for the Australians.
The right-handed batter was brutalised by several balls to the body (and one particularly fierce bowl to the head) from Morkel, who was visible trying to rattle Clarke. Even the physio was needed to attend to Clarke, but in the end, it did not matter. Not only did Clarke survive the over, but he continued batting at a high level, finishing the day with his sights set on a century.
Michael Clarke today? As soft and yielding as granite kitchen tops. How sore and proud will he be tomorrow morning?!— Neil Manthorp (@NeilManthorp) March 1, 2014
His valiant effort was inspiring to watch, and no doubt gave his teammates a huge boost throughout the day.
David Warner (135 runs, 152 balls)
Maybe Warner running his mouth wasn't such a bad thing.
Two days after being fined for accusing Proteas wicketkeepers AB de Villiers of tampering with the ball, according to BBC.com, Warner put in a dominant performance in this deciding matchup, scoring 135 runs for the Australians before eventually being caught by (you guessed it) de Villiers. He maintained a very high strike rate and thoroughly dominated every bowler he faced.
Australia's David Warner frustrates South Africa with a hundred http://t.co/2P1ia4p2de— Guardian Australia (@GuardianAus) March 1, 2014
Warner eased some of the pressure off his Australian teammates with his excellent performance, opening the door for Clarke to work his magic.
Steven Smith (50 runs, 92 balls, not out)
As much as I wanted to talk about one of the South Africans, it's hard to single out a single top performance from the Proteas and not talk about Clarke's partner Smith. The young right-handed batter held his own against a South African team that visibly rattled by an injury to Dale Steyn, scoring a half century of his own and contributing six fours and a clean six to the Australian score.
Smith made it look easy at times and looked comfortable enough to go for a century of his own, particularly with the uncertainty surrounding Steyn.
The Test will resume tomorrow.