Jacques Kallis scored 80 runs and anchored South Africa's revival yesterday after Australia took three early wickets on a rain-reduced opening day of the third cricket test.
Kallis and Ashwell Prince shared an unbroken 144-run partnership, bringing South Africa to 230 for three at stumps.
Kallis, co-winner of the 2005 international cricketer of the year award, faced 181 balls in almost four hours. It took a toll, though, with Kallis receiving treatment on his left elbow after aggravating the problem that sidelined him for the first test in Perth last month.
Prince, who joined Kallis with the total at 86-3, stroked his highest score against Australia and was on 62 from 128 deliveries.
South Africa coach Mickey Arthur said Kallis had soreness in the elbow, but the pain wasn't as bad as it had been in Perth
"We'll have to keep managing that throughout the test match ... he'll be fine," Arthur said.
The big fourth-wicket partnership was important to get South Africa back into the series after losing by 184 runs in the second test at Melbourne last week, Arthur said.
"We need to follow this up with a good first session tomorrow," he said. "We're aware that the new ball is due early, which is quite a crucial factor. If we can get through that, hopefully we can set up something big."
By winning the toss and batting first, South Africa nullified some of the potency of Australia legspinners Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill, who can be destructive in the fourth innings on a wearing pitch.
And while Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath took early wickets, the lack of a third fast bowler meant Australia was unable to fully utilize conditions that were ideal for the seamers yeterday.
"It's a good sign for us because we've now got the runs on the board," said Arthur, who is tipping a first innings exceeding 350.
"That's where we were looking because ... we think that we can defend under 300 in the fourth innings of the game," he said.
The Australians had been on top after Lee dismissed South Africa captain Graeme Smith (39) and opener AB de Villiers (2) and McGrath bowled Herschelle Gibbs (27).
But South Africa didn't lose a wicket in the extended evening session, adding 127 from 40 overs in almost three hours.
"It was a bit frustrating," said Australia vice captain Adam Gilchrist. "They played well on a wicket that was doing a bit early.
"We're a bit disappointed the way the day finished. But we'll come back tomorrow and if we get a couple of early [wickets], we'll be right back amongst it," he said
Australia captain Ricky Ponting made an inauspicious start to his 100th test match, putting down a regulation chance at second slip from de Villiers off McGrath's bowling in the third over.
But Lee ensured it wasn't a costly miss, removing de Villiers three overs later when the total was 16. Smith and Gibbs added 53 for the second wicket before McGrath beat Gibbs with full pitched delivery.
Smith faced 77 balls and hit six boundaries, kicking the ground in frustrated after he was adjudged lbw to Lee.
Lee returned 2-42 from 17 overs and McGrath had 1-39 from 20.
After a scorching Sunday, when temperatures reached 44?C, overnight rain and intermittent showers caused a 2 hour, 40-minute delay to the start of play Monday.
South Africa, hoping to level the series, made two changes to its lineup.