Marsh and Starc help Australia reach 300-run mark

In this match (as the CricViz tweet shows), courtesy South Africa's freaky ploy to bowl short and straight to him, Smith pounded runs through the leg-side even more freely (scoring-rates being 250 through square leg, 123.07 through mid-wicket and 110 through mid-on).

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 worldwide level.

Starc provided an entertaining cameo of 35 from 25 deliveries, clubbing two sixes over deep midwicket off Maharaj and striking four fours, including three in one Morkel over, before he was bowled by Maharaj from what became the final ball before lunch.

"I like to go under the radar".

"We know what his conversion rate is like", Warner said, referencing the fact de Villiers has 43 half-centuries and 21 centuries at Test level.

On getting Smith, Maharaj said: "To gain the reward is a nice feeling".

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.

Warner was also vocal when youngster Theunis de Bruyn was at the crease, reminding the recalled batsman he was "playing with the big boys now".

The last four-match series, in 1970, was won 4-0 by South Africa but since South Africa's readmission to worldwide cricket after apartheid, Australia have been supremely successful in the country, winning five of their seven series and drawing the other two for an unbeaten record.

There was only a little lateral movement up front and the first wicket came out of nowhere with Cameron Bancroft (5) advancing down the pitch before nicking off to a short ball outside off from Vernon Philander.

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Marsh went on to 60 not out at lunch after having survived a low caught and bowled chance to Rabada when he was on 42.

Apart from a bright third-wicket partnership of 56 off 92 balls between Warner (51) and Smith (56), it was largely attritional cricket between the second- and third-ranked teams in Test cricket.

A small sample size, no doubt, but for South Africa, against a player who has otherwise appeared near unstoppable, it is something.

"With some good intensity and aggression we can still pull off something special", de Villiers said.

And Starc's late rampage ensured Australia should take a 1-0 lead in the much-anticipated four-Test series.

David Warner kept the runs flowing but Usman Khawaja (14) looked uncertain against the short ball and would fall victim to a blinding catch by Quinton de Kock off the bowling of Kagiso Rabada.

Mitchell Marsh showed discipline to stick with the Australian lower order.

"Starc was swinging the ball one way and I felt I had him covered".

Ultimately it would be spin that undid the near immovable titan Smith (56) with Keshav Maharaj inducing an edge which deflected off De Kock's gloves and looped to De Villiers at slip. The home team had no TV reviews to overturn the decision after using them both early on. "Loving my cricket, I am loving the environment and hopefully it will continue for a long time", de Villiers saidon Friday (March 2).



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