South Africa vs Australia, 1st Test, Durban

Arnold Nichols
March 3, 2018

A day of Test cricket that left neither side with supremacy, only South Africa with a slight edge, as five Australian wickets went down with 225 runs on the board, on a Durban pitch where patience was paramount.

Australia's vice-captain David Warner revealed a heart-to-heart conversation with his embattled opening partner Cameron Bancroft after the younger man's swift dismissal on the first morning of the Durban Test match, in a manner that suggested a mind working overtime to find answers to the vexing questions posed at global level.

With his second ball Lyon had opener Dean Elgar caught and bowled for seven and three balls later Hashim Amla fell to him as well for nought, leaning forward and edging a ball to Cameron Bancroft at short leg.

"I like to go under the radar. He worked me over and got me out", Warner said.

On getting Smith, Maharaj said: "To gain the reward is a nice feeling". Starc fell for a breezy 35 off 25 balls, also clean bowled by Maharaj.

Having been retained in the Australia side despite an underwhelming Ashes campaign in which technical faults around the off stump were exposed by the likes of James Anderson and Stuart Broad, Bancroft walked down the wicket to his second delivery from the precise Vernon Philander and edged behind.

South Africa had used up both of their reviews - also involving leg before wicket decisions by Dharmasena - and could not challenge.

Australia escaped from trouble the Ashes victor was 177-5 on day one to push its way up to 351 all out in its first innings, with the comeback largely down to Marsh and the three significant lower-order partnerships he anchored.

Smith's partnership with Warner was worth 56 after Australia started slowly and were 15-1 and 39-2.

After all the hype and the build-up, all the talk of fast pitches and faster bowling, of attacks blowing batsmen away, Australia's prize fight against South Africa started with something better.

Last year, Kagiso Rabada was banned by the ICC for abusive language after stump microphones caught him giving a send-off during a Test match against England.

Smith and Warner put on a 56-run partnership that ended with the last ball before lunch as Warner was caught by AB de Villiers at second slip off Philander, and Australia were 95-3 at the end of the first session.

It was unfortunate that less than 4,000 people were at Kingsmead for the opening skirmish of this series, which doesn't involve top-ranked India yet feels like a battle between the best teams in the world. De Villiers praised Australia's intensity on the field and their ability to play out their plans with a lot of success.

Along with Kepler Wessels' team in 1994 - that drew a three-Test series 1-1 - that's the closest the South Africans have come to beating Australia on home soil.

"If people don't want to come, then they're going to miss out on some good cricket", Warner said. That recovery was down to the late-order runs that Marsh oversaw. "I'm glad I don't have to bowl to him because he smacks the ball that hard".

The spinner saw the back of the left-hander with a beauty after tea, De Villiers again taking the catch, but the positive Mitchell Marsh and Paine (21no) ensured no further damage was done before play was cut short.

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