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South Africa v Australia
Kingsmead, March 1-5, 2018
1st Test - South Africa v Australia Test Series 2018
|Australia 1st Inn||351 all out|
|South Africa 1st Inn||162 all out|
|Australia 2nd Inn||227 all out|
|South Africa 2nd Inn||298 all out|
|Australia won the toss and elected to bat.|
|Australia win by 118 runs|
|South Africa||Over: 92.4 RR: 2.78|
|Last Wicket:||Q. de Kock, 83 (lbw. Hazlewood) - 10/298|
Australia haven’t lost a series in South Africa in almost 50 years, but they head to Durban for the first Test of four with as difficult a task as any they’ve faced before. Join The Roar for all the action from 7:00pm (AEDT).
Much like in 2013-14, Australia head west after a dominant Ashes triumph, knowing full well that this will be a more accurate assessment of how good their side is.
Five of the top six batsmen (the only exception being debutant Cameron Bancroft) reached three figures during the 4-0 victory over England, and the bowling quartet of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon proved as well-rounded and dominant an attack Australia have had since they last came to these shores.
But an away series is a completely different proposition, and all of Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Shaun and Mitchell Marsh, and wicketkeeper Tim Paine know an ordinary series here could very well be their final chance at the top level. No pressure.
In 2014, the news that Dale Steyn would be missing the first two Tests of the series with injury would have sent Australian batsmen into spasms of delight, but the Proteas have not only learnt to live without their beleaguered talisman in recent times, they’ve formed a formidable attack in his absence – and this time, they’ve sacrificed a batsman to increase its potency.
Vernon Philander and the retiring Morne Morkel are formidable enough, but when you add to that the No.1 Test bowler in the world, young quick Kagiso Rabada, a wily spinner in Keshav Maharaj, and a raw but imposing newcomer in Lungi Ngidi, the absence of Steyn won’t come as any relief.
The Proteas’ batting line-up is just as formidable, the likes of AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla and captain Faf du Plessis having tormented baggy green attacks for years. But with Amla well below his best, de Villiers coming off a long-term sabbatical from the Test arena, and dynamic wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock going through a serious slump, there is enough doubt to give Mitchell Starc and co. plenty of confidence.
It’s also enough doubt, apparently, for the home side to request a low, slow pitch at Kingsmead to nullify the Australian pace attack – even though it will have the same effect on the home side’s quartet.
The match will hinge on whether the likes of Khawaja, the Marshes and Paine can combine with Steve Smith and David Warner for a match-winning total, like they did in the Ashes. Against South Africa’s bowlers, they won’t be able to.
South Africa to win by six wickets or 88 runs.
Can Australia take a step towards another series triumph in South Africa? Or will it be the Proteas who rise to the challenge? Tune into The Roar’s live coverage from 7:00pm (AEDT) and remember to chime in with your thoughts in the comments section below.