South Africa made a solid start on Thursday to reach 57 without loss at the close on the first day of the third Test after dismissing Australia for 209. New openers Ashwell Prince and Imraan Khan, who replaced injured captain Graeme Smith and the dropped Neil McKenzie, weren't unduly troubled by Australia's attack. They scored at more than four runs per over, mostly due to taking 20 runs off the fifth over, bowled by fast bowler Mitchell Johnson.
Prince looked particularly aggressive, scoring 37 not out off 36 balls and hitting five boundaries and a six over long-on, which came off legspinner Bryce McGain's second ball in test cricket. Khan hit one four to be 15 not out off 50 deliveries. Earlier, South Africa took five wickets for 51 runs after tea to dismiss Australia to a total that could have even been lower had three catches not been dropped. The culprit in two instances was Khan.
Australia, which had first-innings totals of 466 in Johannesburg and 352 in Durban in the two earlier tests, would have been disappointed with its effort after winning the toss. The Proteas would counter that the discipline missing from their attack as they went 2-0 down in the series was back as fast bowler Dale Steyn claimed 4-56 and spinner Paul Harris 3-34.
Harris removed an aggressive Brad Haddin lbw four balls after tea for 42, while Makhaya Ntini and Dale Steyn later each took two wickets in a single over to complete the demolition. Of the lower-order batsmen, only Mitchell Johnson showed any resistance, hitting six fours for 35 in 73 minutes.
Before tea, Simon Katich and Haddin added a fighting 71-run stand after the side had lost two wickets in 10 balls after lunch. Katich (55) and Haddin rescued Australia from a precarious 81-4 after Steyn, changing ends, had bowled Michael Hussey (20) and Michael Clarke (0) in successive overs.