Amla powers to 5000!

Proteas cricketer Hashim Amla. Picture: AFP.

BRISBANE - Hashim Amla’s half century on day one at the Gabba has helped him pass the 5000 run test mark.

The run scoring machine has been in sublime form over the past few seasons.

He recently became the first South African to score a triple century while on tour in England.

Amla showed why he is the top-ranked test batsman in world cricket with his 24th half century and looked comfortable on 69 not out going into the final session with the evergreen Jacques Kallis (37) alongside him.

The Australians removed South Africa skipper Graeme Smith for 10 in the morning session and his fellow opener Alviro Petersen for 64 after lunch.

Captain Michael Clarke had hoped the bowling attack would destroy the South Africans but the fireworks from James Pattinson, Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle failed to eventuate.

Smith won the toss and chose to bat, which looked like a good decision after the wicket and overcast conditions failed to produce the sort of swing and movement off the pitch the seamers had hoped for.

The Proteas are currently in Australia looking to replicate their success of their 2008/2009 series victory by becoming the first South African team to win another series down under.

Whether South Africa's other big decision of the morning - to drop spinner Imran Tahir and give a debut to Rory Kleinveldt as part of a four-pronged pace attack - proves a masterstroke will only be determined as the contest unfolds.

Australia decided to retain Lyon and the off spinner was brought into action in the 16th over, making a reasonable start even if he was hammered for a huge six by Amla in his third over.

South Africa's number one test ranking is on the line in the series, which continues with matches in Adelaide and Perth after Brisbane.