Clarke steers Australia to strong position against S. Africa
Australia's batsman and captain Michael Clarke (C) celebrates after reaching the 100 run mark on day 2 of the third test match between South Africa and Australia at Newlands stadium in Cape Town on March 2, 2014 - by Luigi Bennett
Australia were 494 for seven when rain brought an early tea.
Part-time off-spinner JP Duminy claimed Test-best figures of four for 73, taking three wickets after lunch as Australia went for quick runs.
Australia added 103 runs for the loss of Steve Smith's wicket on a chilly, windy morning and added another 60 runs in 13.4 overs after lunch before rain stopped play.
With strike bowler Dale Steyn out of action after suffering a hamstring injury on the first day, the key for Australia was to prevent the South African bowlers from making a breakthrough early in the day with an almost-new ball.
Kyle Abbott bowled an outstanding spell of six overs during which he conceded only one run, but couldn't take a wicket, while Vernon Philander went for 39 runs in his six-over morning spell.
Clarke, who was on 92 overnight, quickly went to 99 but then faced 24 deliveries - 23 of them from Abbott - without being able to get the run to bring up his fifth century against South Africa.
It finally came with a cover drive for four off Philander. He had faced 215 balls and hit 11 fours.
Smith, meanwhile, played some aggressive strokes as he made 84 in a fourth wicket stand of 184 with Clarke before he chopped a wide delivery from part-time left-arm spinner Dean Elgar into his stumps. He hit nine fours and three sixes in a 155-ball innings.
Shane Watson, playing in his first match of the series, survived a review off the first ball he faced when Elgar appealed for leg before wicket but went on to make an aggressive 40 off 32 balls with two fours and three sixes.
In trying to hit Duminy for a fourth six he mistimed a shot to long-off.
Brad Haddin also perished playing an attacking shot and Mitchell Johnson was caught down the legside first ball by wicketkeeper AB de Villiers off Duminy.
Clarke, who had gone 11 Test innings without making more than 24 runs, batted with increasing confidence and reached 150 for the tenth time in his career off 288 balls when he clipped Abbott for his 17th four.