Proteas on top

A five-wicket-haul from Makhaya Ntini has given South Africa the upper hand in the first Test against Australia at the WACA, dismissing the home side for 258, before its openers survived a testing spell to reach 0-38 at stumps on day one.

A B de Villiers, on 14, and Graeme Smith, on 18, saw off Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee and Nathan Bracken to leave South Africa in a good position going into day two.

Ntini snared 5-64, after Ricky Ponting won the toss and combined with Justin Langer to lay a solid foundation with a 111-run partnership.

Hayden was dismissed in just the second over of the day for a duck when he skied Ntini to Jacques Rudolph at gully.

Ntini was fired-up after the wicket and in the same over hit Ponting on the helmet with a quick bouncer.

Langer was fortunate to survive when he edged Charl Langeveldt just short of Smith at first slip, but took full advantage of his good luck, smashing four boundaries off Ntini in the first over after drinks.

Ponting continued the destruction an over later, hitting two boundaries before scoring his half-century in the 23rd over, off just 68 balls.

However Ntini provided the breakthrough South Africa desperately needed shortly after lunch when Langer, on 37, holed out to Smith at mid-off.

Ponting followed soon after when he was trapped lbw by a beautiful Shaun Pollock off-cutter for 71.

Hodge was given a life on three when gloveman Mark Boucher was unable to take a tough chance off the bowling of Ntini.

Australia entered the tea break at 3-175, but was reduced to 5-185 when Ntini claimed two wickets in as many overs.

Hussey was the first to go for 23 when he was brilliantly caught one-handed by Langeveldt diving at full length.

Ntini picked up his fourth wicket of the innings when Hodge was caught behind for 41, leaving Australia shaky with two new batsmen at the crease.

Adam Gilchrist was lucky to survive on six when he edged Ntini to first slip, only to be dropped by Justin Kemp.

However Ntini had his man four balls later when Gilchrist edged him to Herschelle Gibbs at second slip, leaving the hosts in trouble at 6-199.

It was then left up to the Australian tail to post a competitive score when Andre Nel claimed his first wicket of the match when Andrew Symonds, on 13, mistimed a pull shot onto his off-stump.

Lee was extremely lucky to survive on 14 when Langeveldt dropped an absolute sitter at mid-off, but the South African made amends shortly after, dismissing Shane Warne lbw for 24.

Nel then combined with Boucher to grab the last two wickets in consecutive balls, Bracken (10) and McGrath (0), ending the innings in the 76th over.

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