Marsh, given a return to Test cricket after coming in late to the squad as an injury replacement, and Smith’s partnership of 199 is unbeaten at stumps at Centurian leaving the visitors in a strong position.
Michael Clarke lost the toss and his side was sent in to bat by South African skipper Graeme Smith on a tricky Centurian wicket.
The decision seemed the right one when the Aussies slumped to 2-24, with misjudged short balls claiming openers David Warner and Chris Rogers.
The fall of Warner welcomed Alex Doolan to the Test arena, making his debut against the world number ones at number three in place of the injured Shane Watson.
The Tasmanian looked like he’d been there for years as he compiled a solid 27 runs against a fancied pace attack, but a mistimed pull shot saw him back to the pavilion caught by Alviro Peterson off the bowling of Ryan McLaren.
Michael Clarke too looked comfortable reaching 23 before falling to Dale Steyn, caught by Vernon Philander – the only wicket of the middle period as Australia looked to win back control of the match.
Where their teammates failed though Marsh and Smith excelled, pushing Australian’s run rate well over three runs an over and batting through the entire final session, including riding out 10 overs of the second new ball.
Marsh’s second Test hundred came under pressure and he finished the day 122 not out. Smith will be looking for his hundred in the morning.
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