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Australia leads

Sunday, March 04, 2018

A DEVASTATING spell of swing bowling by Australia's Mitchell Starc may well grab the second-day headlines, but it was his namesake who laid the platform for a commanding 189-run first innings lead in the first Test against South Africa.

Middle-order batsman Mitchell Marsh compiled an excellent 96 in Durban, falling just short of a third test century when, in search of a boundary, he miscued a Vernon Philander delivery to Morne Morkel at mid-on.

But the 114 runs he added with the Australian tail in his side's first innings total of 351 could yet prove pivotal on what is an abrasive wicket that offers assistance with both the new and the old ball.

Marsh's innings laid the platform for an Australian total, before Starc (5-34) and spinner Nathan Lyon (3-50) skittled out their hosts - who lost their last five wickets for just 12 runs - for 162.

Marsh believes that when Starc gets the ball to reverse-swing, there is little a tail can do, while Lyon's strike-rate in the last year has been a perfect foil for the team's pace attack.

AB de Villiers, who struck a brilliant 71 not out as South African wickets fell all around him, believes his side are not out of the test yet.

"Australia had a really good intensity about them," Villiers said.

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