AB stands man alone as Australia take control

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - MARCH 02: AB de Villiers of the Proteas during day 2 of the 1st Sunfoil Test match between South Africa and Australia at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on March 02, 2018 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - MARCH 02: AB de Villiers of the Proteas during day 2 of the 1st Sunfoil Test match between South Africa and Australia at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on March 02, 2018 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)

AUSTRALIA took a firm grip on the first Sunfoil Test match at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on Friday as the Standard Bank Proteas struggled first to avoid the follow on target and then get anywhere close to the visitors’ first innings total on the second day.

AB de Villiers stood man alone as none of the other specialist batsmen stayed long enough to share a substantial partnership with him.

The major damage was done first by the spin of Nathan Lyon and then by the ability of Mitchell Starc to reverse swing the old ball effectively.

De Villiers was denied the opportunity to score his 6th century against Australia when he ran out of partners (71 off 127 balls, 11 fours) as the Proteas were bowled out for 162 in only 51.4 overs. It left the Proteas with a massive first innings deficit of 189 with Australia to start their second innings at the start of the third day’s play tomorrow morning.

Aiden Markram’s 32 was the second-best batting contribution for the Proteas.

Starc finished off the innings abruptly with figures of 5/34 in only 10.4 overs while Lyon picked up 3/50.

Starc has had a good all-round match to date as his eighth wicket partnership of 49 with Mitchell Marsh was a key contribution as well.

With Marsh falling just four runs short of his third Test match century (96 off 173 balls, 13 fours and a six) Australia were able to post exactly 100 runs for their last three partnerships and that made an enormous difference to the total that the Proteas had to face. A total of 351 was probably a little bit better than par, bearing in mind the abrasive nature of the pitch and the spin that has been available throughout.

Keshav Maharaj claimed his fourth five-wicket haul (5/123 in 33.4 overs) and it came as no surprise that Steve Smith introduced Lyon into the Australian attack as early as the start of the eighth over. He achieved immediate success, getting rid of Dean Elgar and Hashim Amla in the space of his first five deliveries and the Proteas never really recovered.

The Sunfoil Education Trust (SET) has so far benefited to the tune of R132 000 from the first two days’ play. This is a result of the number of boundaries and sixes hit as well as wickets taken by the two teams.