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  • Somerset v South Africans, Taunton, 1st day

South Africa endure testing day

Firdose Moonda at Taunton
July 9, 2012
South Africa 96 for 2 (Amla 34*, Kallis 45*) trail Somerset 312 for 8 dec (Trego 104, Hildreth 100, Meschede 50*, Tsotsobe 3-46) by 216 runs
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AB de Villiers took the gloves after Mark Boucher's injury © Getty Images
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Centuries from Peter Trego, whose hundred came off 60 balls, and James Hildreth plus a half-century from Craig Meschede tested the South African attack on their first day of action in England. The tourists' top order was also under pressure but the trusted duo of Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis ensured normal service had resumed by the close.

Trego and Hildreth added 183 for the fifth wicket at more than seven an over and exposed the rustiness of the visitors' support bowling, while Meschede prevented a lower-order collapse with a sturdy, unbeaten 50. In reply, the South Africans also had to rely on their middle order to prop up a wobbly start, but will be pleased to have had a full day's match practice in the lead up to the Test series. However, they had to contend with as serious injury to Mark Boucher who required eye surgery to leave his tour in doubt.

After brushing aside Somerset's top order, who did themselves no favours with two run-outs as they slipped to 32 for 4, the South Africans were unable to stem the flow of runs from either Trego or Hildreth. The pair took control of the morning session helped by ill-disciplined bowling from Morne Morkel and Lonwabo Tsotsobe. Morkel's first over cost 24 as Trego took him for six boundaries at the beginning of his onslaught and a high-octane morning session ended with Somerset 165 for 4.

Their momentum was maintained after the break as Morkel continued to struggle, with another four-over spell that cost 28 where he could not find the correct line or length. After a brief rain delay, Trego brought up his 100 with a gorgeous straight drive off Morkel but shortly afterwards his thrilling innings ended when he edged Vernon Philander to second slip where Kallis took a low catch.

Although Morkel did not improve in his second spell, Tsotsobe did show signs of finding his groove. He had Chris Jones caught behind off the third delivery of his return spell and began to make use of the same subtle movement that he has become known for.

Hildreth's hundred came up with a nudge into the covers off Dale Steyn, the first of an eventful three balls for him. After stealing the strike with that single, Hildreth started Tsotsobe's next over with an edge to Kallis at gully who put it down. It did not cost South Africa anything, however, as Hildreth drove the next delivery to Amla at mid-off.

With South Africa into the tail, Imran Tahir was brought back on and also showed more control. He used his variations sparingly, but when he did bring out the googly it proved dangerous in more than one way. Gemaal Hussain did not read the delivery and was bowled with a bail ricocheting into Boucher's face and cutting his left eye.

AB de Villiers took over from Boucher and South Africa appeared to have lost their concentration. They could not take another wicket and allowed runs to flow again before Somerset ended their time in the field by declaring shortly after tea.

With Alviro Petersen out through injury, the South Africans opened with Graeme Smith and Jacques Rudolph, who did the job for five Tests last season without success as a partnership. Rudolph did not display any increased aptitude for playing in that position and wafted at a Jamie Overton delivery to be caught behind.

Smith went the same way in the next over, to Hussain, but things settled for South Africa after that as Amla and Kallis took them to the close in typically calm fashion. The pair brought out a range of classic strokes - Kallis with the hook and cover drive, and Amla with the leg glance - and both they and the remainder of the batting order will look to make the most of their opportunity on Tuesday.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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