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Warner and Clarke powers Australia in front in Final Test at Newlands

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David Warner took the attack to the South African pace bowlers for the first two sessions of play and then Michael Clarke made his first substantial batting contribution of the series to give Australia the best possible start to the third Sunfoil Test match at Sahara Park Newlands on Saturday.

By the close the Australians had amassed a total of 331/3 off the 88 overs that were possible as their run rate hovered around the four to the over mark throughout the day with Clarke (92 off 181 balls, 9 fours) and Steve Smith (50 off 92 balls, 6 fours and a six) having added an unbroken 114 for the fourth wicket to add to the successive partnerships of 65, 73 and 79 for the three previous wickets.

As always when Warner is at the crease the runs are bound to come thick and fast and his seventh Test match century – his third against South Africa – was no exception. His partners, Chris Rogers and Alex Doolan, were almost passive bystanders as he enabled Australia to reach three figures in the morning session and go to lunch with an imposing total of 118/1.

In the circumstances the Proteas did well to restrict Australia to 77/1 in the afternoon session after losing what turned out to be a very good toss to win on a surface that offered the bowlers very little.

Warner eventually departed in the evening session for the second best score of his international career – 135 off 152 balls, 12 fours and a six – having become the first player on either side to take his aggregate for the series past the 400 mark.

The Proteas attack had a repeat of their Port Elizabeth experience, losing a member of their attack to injury with Dale Steyn suffering a hamstring injury to the first delivery of his 11th over. But, even when Steyn was at full steam, Warner more than had the measure of the South African attack.

The significant feature of his entire series has been the fact that he has been the one Australian batsman who has coped well with the pace, bounce and aggression of Morne Morkel.

Morkel subjected Clarke to a brutal onslaught from around the wicket in the afternoon session and it took courage as much as skill for the Australian captain to overcome it. He will certainly take more than his share of bruises to bed with him tonight but one had to admire the composure he showed at a stage when his self-confidence was understandably not very high.

The Proteas have only had six overs with the second new ball and they will need Morkel, Vernon Philander and Kyle Abbott to strike quickly and regularly if Australia are not to take the game away from them.

The Proteas made two changes from the Port Elizabeth victory as did Australia. Alviro Petersen returned from illness to replace Quinton de Kock while Abbott was selected in place of the injured Wayne Parnell. Shane Watson returned from injury for Australia in place of Shaun Marsh while James Pattinson was preferred to Peter Siddle in the seam attack.