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Half-centuries for Warner and Smith on even first day

03 March 2018, 05:04 | Kristopher Drake

Half-centuries for Warner and Smith on even first day

Half-centuries for Warner and Smith on even first day

Australia's bowler Nathan Lyon, third from right, celebrates with teammates after dismissing South Africa's batsman Hashim Amla‚ far left.

David Warner and Australia captain Steve Smith stabilised the innings with a 56-run partnership, during which Warner brought up his half-century.

He first saw off the second new ball and then when Mitchell Starc was striking the ball well, the younger Marsh rotated the strike very well.

"I like to go under the radar".

It is clear that the Australian team collectively wants Bancroft to do well, admiring his work ethic and durability, and Warner said he had sought to get a better picture of the 25-year-old's mindset as they watched the remainder of a day on which Australia struggled to dictate terms to the Proteas' bowling attack on a slow surface that also offered a hint of uneven bounce. "He's put a lot of big scores on the board in the last six months and it showed across the last two days". Starc fell for a breezy 35 off 25 balls, also clean bowled by Maharaj.

Australia, flying high off the 4-0 Ashes rout in which Smith averaged 137, Marsh 74 and Warner 63, were probably slightly disappointed with their start considering the benign pitch, which led Smith to happily bat first after winning the toss.

Ball-tracking replays suggested the sharp-turning delivery was missing leg stump by some margin, although not everybody was convinced.

At the start of the Proteas' first innings, members of the Australian team were heard loudly talking up the virtues of competing sponsors Qantas and XXXX, with one player even asking the umpires "how good is Qantas?" as Mitchell Starc got ready to deliver the first ball.

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Opener Cameron Bancroft, in dire form, was out first to Vernon Philander for 5, edging behind to wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock.

Bowling is dominated by the quick men; Dale Steyn in 2008, Mitchell Johnson in 2014 and Kagiso Rabada in 2016, have been the men at the forefront of what were cricketing gladiatorial contests.

The last four-match series, in 1970, was won 4-0 by South Africa but since South Africa's readmission to global 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.

Australia will play South Africa and Sony Ten Network have the rights.

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

Smith hit 11 boundaries in another assured innings, but fell before tea when he edged Maharaj attempting a cut and De Villiers took a simple catch after the ball clattered into De Kock's gloves and looped up in the air to end a stand of 56. Smith sent an outside edge past gully for his first four, and hit 10 more boundaries. "I'm glad I don't have to bowl to him because he smacks the ball that hard".

Mitchell Marsh said the tactic was more of a joke than a protest, before repeating it in the press conference. "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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