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Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis ground Australia into the Gabba’s lifeless turf as South Africa took control of the first Test.

Both batsmen were on the verge of centuries when low light stopped play with the Proteas on 2-255. Australia’s wayward attack was made to pay for their inaccuracy, inability to build pressure and, once at least, a terrible self-inflicted error.

Kallis was on 43 when he skied an attempted pull to mid off only for a replay to reveal that bowler Peter Siddle had overstepped the popping crease during the delivery.

Kallis was told to stay in the middle and made the most of his chance by moving inexorably to 84 not out and the brink of his 42nd career century.

Amla was equally unflappable during an innings in which he was subjected to a relentless bumper barrage but showed no signs of being ruffled as he marched to 90 not out.

He is nearing his first century in Australia which would make him the sixth member of the team with a Test ton in this country.

No other team in the 135 years of the sport has fielded so many century-makers and with three more to come in the innings, Australia may suffer more pain tomorrow.

Siddle maintained his pace throughout the afternoon but his radar was astray while James Pattinson, the pick of the bowlers with 1-53, and Ben Hilfenhaus were unable to gain any great assistance.

Pattinson was the only bowler to regularly bowl a fuller length and posed the greatest threat to the batsmen during his 20 overs.

Michael Clarke’s vain search for penetration was clear as he made 25 bowling changes on the day with debutant Rob Quiney getting through more overs than he had done in the past two State seasons combined.

South Africa opener Alviro Petersen plays a reverse sweep off Nathan Lyon. Pic: Getty Images